Saturday, July 26, 2014

Allen Ginsberg's Proust Questionnaire

      [Allen Ginsberg - Photograph by Michael Tighe] 

The Proust Questionnaire is a questionnaire named after the one famously responded to by Marcel Proust (he actually took the questionnaire twice (once in 1885-86, when he was only a teenager, and again in 1891-92, with a different set of answers). Modern (twentieth-century evocations have included those by French tv host, Bernard Pivot, and, more recently, American tv presenter, James Lipton, and, as a high-point in the register of popular culture, for many years now, as a regular feature in the magazine, Vanity Fair.
It's from the latter (the March 1994 issue) that the following has been taken. This text also appeared in  Vanity Fair's Proust Questionnaire - 101 Luminaries Ponder Love, Death, Happiness and the Meaning of Life  (2009)    

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

AG:Excellent health. no flu, no leprosy.

What is your most marked characteristic?

AG: Incriminating eloquence.

What is your greatest extravagance?

AG: Poetry office with fax, Xerox and poetry archive

What is your favorite occupation?

AG: Writing poems in a bedside notebook.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

AG: Insanity, drug-induced or natural.

What is your greatest regret?

AG: I didn't accept a friend's invitation to get in bed naked in 1944

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

AG: Continuous cowardice

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

AG: Renew my body, set at 17.

Which living person  do you most despise?

AG: New York City's Cardinal O'Connor, for his gay hypocrisy, considering that his powerful predecessor Cardinal Spellman was notoriously gay.

On what occasion do you lie?

AG: To protect friends from my public life in poetry. Candor for oneself doesn't require snitching on others

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

AG: Virginity and/or cynicism and/or machismo

What do you regard as the lowest depths of misery?

AG: Co-dependency with madman or - woman

What is the quality you most like in a man?

AG: Intelligent beauty.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

AG: Sympathetic self-reliability.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

Who are your heroes in real life?

What is your favorite journey?

AG: To Benares, the "oldest continually inhabited city in the world".

Where would you like to live?

AG: Sometimes Paris, sometimes London, sometimes Benares, sometimes San Francisco, sometimes New York.

How would you like to die?

AG: In Buddhist community peacefully, aged 100, in presence of a helpful lama

What is your motto?

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what do you think it would be?

What is it that you most dislike?

AG: Theopolitical nationalist "family values" TV hypocrites and their corresponding heads of state

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?


  1. Can we see the answers Marcel Proust gave to the 2 questionnaires ?

    1. Check out the hyper-links, Anonymous. We do some but we don't do all of the work!

  2. Best in THE art Or Poetry
    My question Is ?