In the late 1880s, a teenage Marcel Proust (July 10, 1871–November 18, 1922) received a curious questionnaire from a friend named Antoinette as part of her “confession album,” a Victorian version of today’s popular personality tests. Proust’s original manuscript, titled “by Marcel Proust himself,” wasn’t discovered until shortly after his death. It was auctioned in 2003 for over 100,000 euros.
In 1993, Vanity Fair started publishing various celebrities' and public figures’ answers to the Proust Questionnaire on the last page of each issue. Among the most delightful of all their installments was that by David Bowie, published in the magazine in August of 1998.
The Proust Questionnaire is a time honored approach to exploring the intersection of work and personality. To honor the recent passing of the great, cultural icon, David Bowie -- he died on January 10, 2016, at the age of 69 -- and as prelude to posed2’s adaptation of this tradition -- we present here a transcript of Bowie’s Proust Questionnaire.
In future installments, we plan to feature questionnaires completed by the rising stars of Generation Z. Download the posed2 app; play posed2 games; and get your name on the posed2 leader board. Perhaps you will be the next star of posed2's "3 Minute Proust"!
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
What is your most marked characteristic?
Getting a word in edgewise.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
What is your greatest fear?
Converting kilometers to miles.
What historical figure do you most identify with?
Which living person do you most admire?
Who are your heroes in real life?
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
While in New York, tolerance.
Outside New York, intolerance.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
What is your favorite journey?
The road of artistic excess.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Sympathy and originality.
Which word or phrases do you most overuse?
What is your greatest regret?
That I never wore bellbottoms.
What is your current state of mind?
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
My fear of them (wife and son excluded).
What is your most treasured possession?
A photograph held together by cellophane tape of Little Richard that I bought in 1958, and a pressed and dried chrysanthemum picked on my honeymoon in Kyoto.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Living in fear.
Where would you like to live?
Northeast Bali or south Java.
What is your favorite occupation?
Squishing paint on a senseless canvas.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
The ability to return books.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
The ability to burp on command.
What are your favorite names?
Sears & Roebuck.
What is your motto?
“What” is my motto.