Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Proust Questionnaire

Marcel Proust 1871 - 1922
If not yourself, who would you be?
Answer:  A short story writer. 

I have been rather uninspired as of late and my blog has suffered for it.  I ran into a neat questionnaire at  Jo's Majority of Two and Carol's Giraffe Dreams.  I quit reading their answers and copied the questions into my word processor.  After careful contemplation,  I then answered the questions and will now post them here for your edification and horror.   

The questionnaire is named after Marcel Proust, author of the famous À la recherche du temps perdu,  In Search of Lost Time,  also known as Rememberance of Things Past. The novel is in published in seven volumes and is longer than 4000 pages. Proust did not devise the questionnaire, he only answered it, twice, but somehow his name became associated with the questionnaire. 

So here we go, a look into the twisted mind of Sextant:

What is your greatest fear?
 1) Losing my wife.  2) Accidentally seriously injuring or killing someone.  

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
None.  I admire many though.  FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, Churchill, Ike, George Marshall, Patton, Truman, George Washington. 

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Ineffectuality and laziness. 

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Intellectual arrogance. 

What is your greatest extravagance?
Buying tons of books and never reading them.  

What is your favorite journey?
My wife and I driving down a two lane country road with no particular destination.  No one is in front of us or behind us.  

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

On what occasion do you lie?
It might be easier to list when I am truthful, but generally to keep from hurting others.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
There is nothing that I like about my appearance.  Choosing favorites has never been my strong point. 

Which living person do you most despise?
Again I have trouble with picking favorites.  I can often place myself in the top 10.  

What is your greatest regret?
Not being a better son, husband, and father.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wife, Lady Sextant. 

When and where were you happiest?
Happy is a strong term (see motto), probably now.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Keen intellectual analysis. 

What is your current state of mind?
Muddled and sinus head-achey.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Add 30 points of IQ. 

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Marrying my wife, Lady Sextant. 

What is your most treasured possession?
I never been great at picking favorites.  Should I like my Kindle better than my furnace?  

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Lack of love, abject poverty,  homelessness, and hopelessness. 

Where would you like to live?
Pacific North West, British Columbia, on the shore of a rainy and foggy bay.  

If not yourself, who would you be:
I have no idea, but definitely not myself.  EDIT:  Morgan Freeman, in every way except not an actor and not rich.  

What is your most marked characteristic?
Opening my stupid mouth, when I should keep it closed. 

What do you most value in your friends?
Heart to heart candor.

Who are your favorite writers?
Too numerous to say.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
None, but I will default to Richard Ford’s Frank Bascombe of Sportswriter, Independence Day, and The Lay of the Land.  

Who are your heroes in real life?
Alive, Mary Robinson former President of Ireland.  Hoping for Elizabeth Warren.  Deceased:   Richard Feynman, Marie Curie,  Albert Einstein, and Lise Meitner. 

What is it that you most dislike?
Shit stirring.  Nasty dissension for the purpose of dissenting nastily. 

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
Another horse’s ass.  I perfected it in this life, why change?  

The Kiss, Rodin
Hard as rock.  We tried sir, but we could not
separate them.  They will have to be laid
to rest in the same casket.  Will the viewing
be open casket, sir?

How would you like to die?
Instantaneously in a gas explosion at the moment of truth while making love to Lady Sextant on her 100th birthday.  I want us to be all melted together, except our faces which will reflect an centenarian afterglow.  The heat of the explosion will melt the soft tissue which then cools into an impermeable igneous plastic residue resistant to bacteria.  The undertaker will make several attempts at separating our melted bodies to no avail.  Our prude son will have to bury us in a single casket and explain to the mourners why it is that both his parents are in a single casket, not to mention getting a 2fer funeral and burial.  Think of the savings!  How better to spend eternity than melted together in the arms of the woman I love? 

What is your motto?
"Being Irish he had an abiding sense of tragedy which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” W. B. Yeats

Image Credits:


  1. Lady Sextant is very lucky.

    1. She may not feel that way on her 100th birthday. "Dear, do you smell gas?"

      "Nah, that's my pheromones."

      "Stop right now and go check the basement!"

      Being a pragmatist, she may not share my romantic notions of being laid in eternal piece.

      It sounds nice in theory, but actually gas explosions are hard to control. The idea is to be melted together in a very compromising position. Ergo forcing my son to realize that the last time we did it was not his conception. He seems to think only young, good looking people should enjoy the physical arts. Anytime we have tried to disabuse him of that notion, he says "Stop! Say no more. Eeewwww There's an image that I will have for the rest of my life!"

      "Mr Sextant Jr, we need you to identify the bodies."

      "Aggggggghhhhhh, gross! Its them. Show me no more."

      Ha ha! You puritanical worshiper of youth!

      But then again it will serve no one's purpose to blow our asses to smithereens and take half the neighborhood with us.

      Well I have 40 years to think of a better plan. But between ineffectuality, laziness, and cowardice (forgot to mention that one) I'll never devise a good method of painless, eternal, inseparable plasticization. Alas, spending eternity side by close but so far away. Its sad.

      There is a certain appeal to these vertical interments my cemetery is pushing these days. "Who is on top?" would no longer be a battle of sexual politics, but a simple matter of actuarial want to be on top you have to die second. But still I want to be with her...same container--melted plasticized flesh, not ashes.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Donna, always a pleasure.

  2. IQ points are highly over rated. I do like your end-of-life scenario.

    1. Olga,

      IQ? Only to those who already possess them. For those of us lacking such, it is a deeply felt loss.

      Go out with a bang, it is romantic, is it not? Thanks for stopping by.

    2. And a P.S. If Lady Sextant feels as you do, you are a lucky man who really doesn't need to be ruminating on the tragic...but then, I am not Irish.

    3. Olga,

      Yes Lady Sextant feels the same way, except for maybe that gas explosion. So she is the bright spot in an other wise ecstatically tragic existence. We Irish wallow in it. Alas, a little joy must enter all hearts.

      That said, Lady Sextant is also a Johnny Bull, all four grandparents off the boat from England. So as I like to tell her, the English subjugation of the Irish continues.

      I am a lucky man. Lady Sextant is the prize of my life.

  3. Can be hard to do introspective insights at times, eh?
    As little as I know Sextant, your answers do seem right on par with your inner sanctum, your answers are from the heart, and your many posts from the past few years lends credence to your honest values. I think Polonius from Hamlet, summed it up best....
    "This above all- to thine own self be true,
    And it must follow, as the night the day,
    Thou canst not then be false to any man."
    Keep writing from the heart Sextant, it's good for both you and your readers..especially me.

    For me...questionnaires rate right up there with surveys, which is to say fairly low on the totem pole of life's list of things to do. I always viewed them as time spent that you'll never get back again. Usually I can wrangle out of doing surveys/questionnaires, but somehow got roped into doing one the other day. You know how it goes...." On a scale of 1 to 10...1 being very dissatisfied and 10 being very satisfied, how would you rate............" at which point my eyes and mind glaze over, and I go comatose.
    On another note...ole man winter is till abiding by us.

    1. Shat, that is the most Shakespeare that I have read since high school. Who knew that high culture as well as flood waters can be found on the banks of the mighty LaSalle?

      What I like is the surveys the car companies asks about your car buying experience with the dealership. Not one question about how you like the damned car. I could give a shit less if the salesman had halitosis. Ask me about the frigging car. I didn't just spend 25 grand on a purchasing experience, I bought a damned car.

      Busman as always, an honor, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  4. I think you don't give yourself enough credit for already owning enough IQ points and for having lived a decent life. Lady Sextant must have seen something worth hanging around for.

    1. Lady Sextant is angelic and has put up with a lot of crap over the years, nothing truly horrible, but I could have done better.

      The IQ was pretty sorry to begin with, but the MS put the whammy on it. I would estimate 10 to 20 points.

      BTW thanks for the idea on this. I saw it your blog first then went over to Jo's.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Carol.

  5. BTW...I happened to go over your list again......I wasn't aware you had such an aversion to shit stirring? How can this be? Stirring the pot is a wonderful pastime.
    Stir a little...step back...and watch the fireworks. We squareheads have a word that best sums up pot stirring.."Schadenfreude".
    Or am I just stirring your pot a little ?? :)

    1. You should run for Congress in US. Stir some shit and watch what happens and get paid for it.

  6. A wonderful post! I thought at first about doing the questionnaire on my blog but there is no way I can top your answers...especially your death scene! Talk about romance!

    You and Lady Sextant have been terribly lucky in finding each other and staying married and committed and most of all so in love all these years.

    I don't know if I could handle your books reviews and/or blog posts if you had 30 more IQ points! As it is sometimes some of the things you say just go right over my silly little head. The good thing is that I hate not knowing things so when I read something you have posted and I don't know what it means I use those wonderful links that you provide on your blog and I learn something new!

    1. Alicia,

      Yes, my planned demise reads like Romeo and Juliet. To fully appreciate my musings, one needs a tablet computer, that she or he can clasp to their breast, sigh, and dreamily stare off at the horizon and shed a tear of bittersweet joy/grief for an end to one of the great romances of all time.

      Perhaps I can use you as a technical consultant , you have some experience in planning for the great beyond! Alas, the precise conditions for the explosion to achieve the desired goal remain unfortunately the dreams of a romance novel.

      Yes, I am very lucky, Lady Sextant, pulled me back from the edge of the abyss. I owe her much.

      Alicia, one thing you do not have is a silly little head. You are one accomplished and smart woman...perhaps a little weird to read my crap, but none the less there is nothing silly or little about your head. I am glad you enjoy the posts although they are starting to get rather rare these days. I need a kick in the ass. Thank you for your kind comments and as always thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    2. Well I was a bit concerned with the casket, pretty sure since you're entwined and all that you wouldn't fit into a standard one. Your son would have to spring for the oversize and that's a bit more costly. So there goes your theory of getting a 2fer.

      I found it interesting reading back the post again that you pretty much did one or two sentence responses for all the questions, but your death question, you were pretty specific and it was lengthy. You've obviously thought about this before. Hmmm, very interesting don't you think?

    3. Ahaa, Alicia, your observation is correct. I attempted to write a book back in the early 90s. It was pure crap and I did nothing with it, but I have included in this blog several chapters from the book. One of those chapters was titled Tunnels which a loose metaphor of the near death experience with going through the two tunnels on Pittsburgh's Parkway to go to the funeral home for my cousin who had died rather unexpectedly. The chapter was long and required 3 blog posts because of the length. Here is the first:

      There are links at the beginning and end of the post for the other two posts. They are very long, although you might get a kick out of my funeral home observations. It strikes me as a very weird custom.

      To spare you wading through a bunch of metaphysical speculative horse shit and my recollections of me making an ass of myself at the funeral home here is the paragraph on my hope for the mutual checking out with my wife which appeared at the end of the chapter:

      "Quite actually, I hope we go together. In a car accident? No, too simple. I should think that it would be thrilling to be somewhat of an embarrassment to our heirs. When we have outlived our usefulness, I hope that we die together--while making love. At the moment of truth (you know when I mean, that point that the "how to" books make such a big deal about, and which she and I have always had this amazing synchrony) the furnace explodes. Blows sky high. The force of the explosion instantly slams the life out of us. The heat of the explosion and the ensuing fire melts our bodies together in an inseparable mess. The mortician gives up trying to separate us, and places us--ventral flesh fused as one, pleasure locked on our faces--into one closed coffin. Another closed coffin, filled with sand bags, is provided for the sake of decency. "The caskets must be closed because of the terrible condition of the bodies from the explosion," everyone will be told. Yet the pall bearers can not understand why one of the caskets is so heavy, almost twice the expected weight. Hopefully, the rescue workers that showed up after the explosion will be a bit gabby--strange rumors will keep surfacing. Can you imagine the hem hawing around that will go on during the telling of the sad tale? Think of the gossip that our mutual arrival at the ground floor of the Great Beyond will cause. We will have the place buzzing, and I think God will be amused. What a way to go."

      I think I wrote this in 1992. My son was only 9 at this time and hadn't expressed his distaste for his parent's sexuality. With his prudishness for old age sex, I have adapted my story to thoroughly rub his nose in the fact that "No, the last time we had sex was not your conception."

      Oh I further amended the new version to my wife's 100th birthday which is comfortably is far off in the future. This was a necessity because I am pretty sure that I (although not my wife) have out lived my usefulness.

      Oversized coffin hmmmm. Well maybe we will get a 1.5fer. I am pretty sure at the time that I won't give a shit either way.

      In any event, do not worry, this is a day dream. There is no intent here. I am far too chicken for that.

    4. Sorry...didn't get a chance to read this comment as I went to go read part 1, loved it and read the beginning of part 2 and now I have to get ready for bed...but I will be back!