All good things must come to an end, but the end can be good, too. Most newspapers use the back page for an interesting personality piece. Films often give you a little bit more to enjoy while the credits roll. Desserts come after dinner.
The magazine Vanity Fair makes sure that each of their issues ends well and on a philosophical note by using the Proust questionnaire and asking celebrities to provide the answers. But what is the Proust questionnaire exactly?
In the late 19th century, an “interactive” type of confession album became popular in Britain, Germany and the Netherlands. These books provided a question or a prompt, and the owner would fill in his or her answers, confessing the truth. The questions might range from prosaic to deep, from “What is your favorite food?” to “What is your most cherished virtue in a friend?” The idea was for the author’s true nature to be revealed by answering the questions candidly.
Marcel Proust, French essayist and novelist, became connected with this form of recording one’s thoughts when he filled out a friend’s confession album. His answers were articulate and enthusiastic. They also belied a great literary talent and maturity since he was still just a teenager when he wrote them. The album was found in 1924, 2 years after his death, and the original copy of his answers were auctioned off in May 2003 for €102,000.
Rather than turn a celebrity for their thoughts, we’ve asked Owain Wilson from the Go English Teacher Management team for his answers. Happy reading!
__1.__What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Mindfulness. Hahaha! Actually, it is true. I could be anywhere, with anyone, but it’s those moments when I just stop and relax, think about where I am, pay attention to what I’m doing, and realise that my mind has been elsewhere – (often) preoccupied with something stressful or worrying – that I feel truly happy.
__2.__What is your greatest fear?
Dying. Well, come on! I’m not going to even contemplate life-long suffering. What else is there? I think people who give the answer ‘speaking in public’ really need to get a bit of perspective.
__3.__What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
False modesty. I’m not very good at saying, ‘Yes, thanks I did really well’ even someone else is saying it and I agree.
__5.__Which living person do you most admire?
Elvis. What? He died? When?
__6.__What is your greatest extravagance?
Palmeras de chocolate. I have absolutely no need to eat an enormous PdC, but from time to time I do. As with any indulgence, it feels great just before and as I savour the taste and texture of the chocolate. But, I always end up with a horrible feeling in my stomach as it struggles to break down, well, whatever those things are made of.
__7.__What is your current state of mind?
Curious. From my own personal situation with my family and at work to the things that are going on in the world at the moment, everything has me asking questions and wondering how things are going to turn out. Nothing seems straight forward anymore. Mid-life crisis round the corner?
__8.__What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Modesty. I do think this is has its value but also I think too much of it can be debilitating. From not being able to accept praise from others to undermining a person’s self-confidence, being too modest is probably the reason lots of good people are not in key positions from schools to companies to politics and why many mediocre people are.
__9.__On what occasion do you lie?
On Christmas day every year for about the past 25 years.
__10.__What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Nowadays, it’s my thinning, greying hair. I used to have flowing locks but I can’t have long hair anymore. It just makes me look too old.
__11.__Which living person do you most despise?
I was going to say Nigel Farage, but I actually have a twisted kind of respect for him. So, I’ll go for drivers on the streets of Madrid. These are the people that really make my blood boil. Aside from almost killing me on a regular basis, I just find the lack of awareness that they’re driving around in a killing machine despicable. A casual wave of the hand (if you’re lucky) as some sort of recognition that perhaps they should look at the road ahead from time to time, makes it even worse.
issues: (noun) an issue of a magazine is the monthly edition
prompt: (noun) an invitation to respond to a word, sentence, or idea
belied: (verb) To belie is to show a contradiction. Here’s an example: his maturity belied his true age.
What about you? What are your “confessions?”