• Theresa Camozzi

The Proust Questionnaire: The 19th Century Version of a BuzzFeed Quiz

I've been hooked on quizzes since I picked up my first Seventeen Magazine in the 90s. I've been abstaining from the data-mining-but-oh-so-fun quizzes that have been going around social media these days (even though Cambridge Analytica et al probably have a very robust profile of me already). So when I came across this questionnaire filled out by one of my heros on Brain Pickings, I wanted to do it too; if it's good enough for Jane Goodall, Joan Didion, and David Bowie, it's good enough for me!

It was a lovely, introspective experience. Reminding me mostly of what I love and shining a gentle light on things I need a little more of in my life. Here are my answers. I'd love to read yours too (if you write a post, link it in the comments so I can see it).

__1.__What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Sunshine filtering through leaves or sparkling on snow.

__2.__What is your greatest fear?

Failing the people who believe in me and depend on me.

__3.__What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?


__4.__What is the trait you most deplore in others?


__5.__Which living person do you most admire?

Autumn Peletier.

__6.__What is your greatest extravagance?


__7.__What is your current state of mind?


__8.__What do you consider the most overrated virtue?


__9.__On what occasion do you lie?

To myself, every morning, when I overestimate what I can do in a day/week/hour.

__10.__What do you most dislike about your appearance?

Society's judgments of it.

__11.__Which living person do you most despise?

No comment.

__12.__What is the quality you most like in a man?


__13.__What is the quality you most like in a woman?


Update for the 21st century: Self-awareness is the quality I like most in non-binary people.

__14.__Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Vitality, qi, genius, amazing.

__15.__What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Sweet Lulu.

__16.__When and where were you happiest?

At St. Leon with family- many times through my life.

__17.__Which talent would you most like to have?


__18.__If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I'd like to be a better steward of my energy.

__19.__What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I have a hard time considering any of my achievements great (working on it).

__20.__If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

A willow tree.

__21.__Where would you most like to live?

I'm happy where I am, but perhaps I'd like to spend a season or two in Cinque Terra, or Key West, or off the grid in the Kootenays.

__22.__What is your most treasured possession?

My mom's ring.

__23.__What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

So far: undiagnosed PTSD.

__24.__What is your favorite occupation?

Making Flower Essences.

__25.__What is your most marked characteristic?

Warmth & imagination.

__26.__What do you most value in your friends?

Their beautiful strangeness.

__27.__Who are your favorite writers?

Anais Nin, Ernest Hemingway, Alan Bradley, Jaqueline Carey, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Louisa May Alcott, Mo Willems.

__28.__Who is your hero of fiction?

Elle Woods.

__29.__Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Maria Sibylla Merian.

__30.__Who are your heroes in real life?

Jane Goodall, Buffy Saint-Marie, Dolly Parton, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Aviva Romm, Lorie Dechar, MingHui Shen, all my grandmothers.

__31.__What are your favorite names?

I really like flower names. My little girl's middle name was almost "Buttercup" and I'm still sad that it isn't.

__32.__What is it that you most dislike?

Our disconnection from the natural world.

__33.__What is your greatest regret?

Not taking more nudes in my twenties.

__34.__How would you like to die?

Like my Grandma Elinor. Peacefully, in a hospital, after loving goodbyes.

__35.__What is your motto?

Per herbam ad astra.

© 2023 by Dr. Theresa Camozzi