Thursday, March 27, 2014

Proust Questions

I’ve decided to do something a little more personal for this essay and podcast. The Proust Questionnaire has made the rounds on the internet for quite some time and has gone through many permutations over the years. I’m going to take some of the questions and post them here.
My favorite virtue? Honesty. Something my mother taught me growing up was to be as honest as you can be without causing someone harm. There are times where a lie is important. One thought experiment I’ve enjoyed using to test people’s notion of “always being honest” involves World War II. Say you know that the Jews are being rounded up to be shipped off and executed. Your Jewish neighbors, with whom you have had cordial but not deep relationships, ask to hide in your attic. Not long after they start hiding there, the SS arrives at your door. For the time being, they are the lawful authority of the land. They ask if you’re hiding any Jews. You know there are severe penalties for those who hide Jews and are discovered to be doing so. What do you say? There’s honesty to authority, to loved ones, but most importantly there is honesty to your own moral compass. That is the honesty I’m writing about.
My favorite word? Misanthropy. In case it isn’t apparent by now, I don’t have a great deal of faith in humanity as a group. Individuals can be wonderful, caring, considerate, and selfless. Very few times have I seen humanity as a group act in such ways; and if they do, it’s usually for short bursts of time.
My main fault? Pride. I am proud of my intellect and my growing capacity for using words. I am proud of the steps I’ve taken to overcome my addictions and to place myself on a proper path. I’m proud of the steps I’ve taken in my personal life for the most part to make my life happier. Unfortunately, there’s a tendency to become too prideful, too smug with my sense of self-worth. Thankfully, there’s a good group of family (you don’t have to be blood to be family) who knock me down a few pegs when I need it.
My least favorite word? Cunt. I’ve gotten away from using this word as I’ve grown older. It’s still the only word I can say that will make my mother haul off and smack me. I don’t mean a love tap, either. If I’ve used the word recently, I can’t recall but in the past it happened when I had reached my wit’s end with someone, regardless of their gender.
Favorite prose authors? Jim Butcher currently sits on the top of the list, as evidenced by my continuing to review his Dresden Files series. He has a wonderful grasp of character and pacing that I feel like these are flesh-and-blood people at times. Tolkien and Martin are also on my list. One created the fantasy epic as we know it and the other has deconstructed many of the tropes the first created. Both are wordsmiths with an eye for sumptuous detail, which I find fascinating.
My favorite poets? Poe starts off my favorites due to finding him at a time where my depression illness was not always controllable. His words were able to reach something in me and helped me deal with the darker recesses of my mind. William Carlos Williams is my other favorite due to his quote “no poetry but in things”. That quote radically changed my view of writing poetry, grounding me in mundane reality and finding beauty, sadness, joy, and sorrow in everyday things.
What turns me on? Intelligence, bar none. I have to be able to have a conversation with a person if I’m going to consider them for anything more than a one-night stand. There are two constants besides sex: food and talking. I can cook (not with great versatility but still). If the other person and I can’t talk, we’ve got nothing.
What turns me off? Violence against animals and children. While religious extremism gets me riled up, nothing pisses me off quite as much as abuse against animals and children. Before I affectionately named him Skitters, my mother found this frightened kitten with a giant burn on his chest. We don’t know how he got it. She couldn’t take care of him (she already had too many animals) and I was moved by what he’d gone through, so I took him in. He’s a healthy, if jittery, animal now.
Sound or noise I love? A person having an orgasm. To me, it’s the greatest sound imaginable and each person’s is a little bit different. There’s nothing more life affirming than a good orgasm.
Sound or noise I hate? Screeching brakes. When that sound is heard, nothing good is about to happen.
Favorite Hero in Fiction? I’d have to say Wolverine. Of course there’s the obvious stuff about him being a bad-ass and the claws. For me, though, it was the constant pull between the violent, animalistic side of his psyche and the honorable man who simply wanted to be a decent person.
Favorite Heroine in Fiction? Arya from Song of Ice and Fire. Arya is a wonderful character to delve into as a reader. As a fan of great acting, Maisie Williams knocks it out of the park every time I watch her. For that series, her arc is the one I want to see reach its end, regardless of what that is.
Favorite curse word? A tough question. I enjoy using all of them. Cursing isn’t necessary but it’s an added bonus that makes life interesting. I’d have to say my favorites are asshole and cocksucker. Usually, I reserve them for when I’m describing myself (by saying that “I am a gaping asshole”) or when I’m angry with something or someone.
       My favorite saying? I have my moments.

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