22 October 2015

The "Proust Questionnaire"

Personal picture (via Instagram)

The famous Parisian library Shakespeare and Company has opened a café. One worth visiting if ever you are around, by the way. But, more importantly, there was an odd questionnaire with our order: The Shakespeare and Company Café Proust Questionnaire. I have decided to answer it here.

1. What is your present state of mind?
 Awake (to my needs, wishes and inner being, if that makes any sense).

2. What is your favorite way to spend your time?
Reading, writing, playing video games.

3. If you were an animal, which one would you be?
A cat, independent but caring, in my own way. We also share an appetite for fish and diary products.

4. What book makes you want to live in a different era?
Writers like Jules Verne or H.G. Wells make me want to live during the Belle Époque (end 19th/beg20th century). They were so enthusiastic about science and progress for the future. I feel we are in an era full of doom and gloom, in comparison. (Of course, being a woman, I don't think I'd enjoy that era for long though. I'd need a time machine please, Mr. Wells.).

5. What's the craziest thing you've ever eaten?
A grilled scorpion, in the Chinese neighorhood in Yokohama, Japan.

6. What is your favorite journey?
Around the world in 80 days, by Jules Verne, definitely. Or was it meant to be one of my journeys? In that case, my year in Japan, without a doubt.

7. Who is your hero in real life? Who is your hero in fiction?
My real life heroes are public figures who are trying to make a difference in the way we see the world, Pierre Rabhi, Matthieu Ricard, Jack Kornfield... In fiction, probably Garrus Vakarian (although that's not a book). Because calibration is important. And dull heroes are boring.

8. Which word or phrases do you most overuse?
Those are all swearwords I'm afraid.

9.  What is your idea of perfect happiness?
It may be stereotypical, but I think happiness can be found within, whatever the life circumstances. It's a mix of feeling grateful for the tiniest moments of the present, finding meaning in our own life, and connecting with other human beings around us. And I think it starts with being connected with oneself, one's own soul, and nourish it as best one can.

10. If you could spend the rest of your life with a character from a book, who would it be?
I don't think there is room in my life for such person. There are many I'd like to meet though.

11. What is your theme song?
"Her Morning Elegance", by Oren Lavie.
It's about a woman who has a whole life in her head, and nobody knows...

12. Who are your three favorite writers?
Now that's a hard one. There are more than three, but here is a selection:
Alexander McCall Smith
Isaac Asimov
Ann Leckie (I just discovered her, but her first book Ancillary Justice is absolutely fantastic)

13. Where in the world would you most like to live?
 Why not Paris? Wait...

14. On what occasion do you lie?
When truth serves no purpose, but would hurt people.

15. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

16. Which poem makes your spine tingle?
Ode to Autmn, by John Keates.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,
17. What is your favorite smell?
Firewood, a mandarine orange being peeled, fig tree, hot cinnamon from an apple pie or hot cocoa, jasmine, roses and vanilla. The scents of fresh spices and ripe fruits...

18. If you could ask the leader of your country to read one book, what would it be?
The Little Prince perhaps, or the Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.

19. What's your favorite hiding place?

20. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
So far? Taking on writing again, despite the work, despite many temptations to give up, despite the stinge to self esteem each time a text gets refused or a beta-reader comes back with tons of corrections.

21. Which book do you have on your nightstand but know you'll never read?
I don't have such books, these have been sold or donated when I edited my possessions.

22. If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?
Being able to meddle with time: extend week-ends, get a real life Ctrl-Z when I say or do something tactless without intention, visit other eras...

23. What was your favorite book as a child?
It was a science-fiction book out of the children collection "Bibliothèque Verte" from Philippe Ébly, called Les Parias de l'an 2187 (the Outcasts from Year 2187). It takes place in Auvergne, my home region, it was my first contact with science-fiction, and I was in awe at the magic he created around my familiar landscapes.

Perhaps this book was one of the origins of my love for writing, and for science-fiction and fantasy worlds in general. It showed me how my daily surroundings could become magical with a bit of imagination. I remember being very frustrated that I couldn't read the other adventures of these people, as it was a whole series from which I only owned this tome. I think I might do it now, actually...

24. Do you have a recurring dream? If so, what is it?
I have powers, in my dreams. When I was a child, I first learned how to fly. I would look for tall buildings to fly from, like the bird in "the Rescuers Down Under". Then, I learned to master the craft, control my dreams. I could launch myself from the ground, swam in the sky first, then flew like the Dragon Ball heroes. As I got older, I learned new magical skills: lightning control, talking with dragons, stop or rewind time, become invisible, teleport, throw fireballs...

Even now, I sometimes make these dreams that I can control, and practice my magic. Lately, I've fancied to be an immortal in my dreams (as in the Highlander). I don't dream that I die and resurrect, but I do dream that I have lived through many eras of History.

25. What to you is the most beautiful word or words?
"Umami", a specific taste that exists in Japanese language but not in French or English.
"Ukiyô" "the floating world", a beautiful image from the Japanese language as well.

26. What's the worst book you've ever read?
"The Gods of Atlantis", from David Gibbins. I'm sorry for the author, but the book was slow, clumsy, full of flashbacks that cut the story. The events were predictable, the characters lifeless. I read it through to the end, in order to make sure my opinion was justified, and it was the most painful read I can remember.

27. Who would play you in the movie of your life?
What an odd question! I have no idea. If I ever get famous enough for that, the actress playing my role is probably not born yet anyway.

28. What is your motto?
As a writer: "Nulla Dies Sine Linea"  - Not a day without (writing) a line
As a person: "Be happy with what you have, while working to get what you want."

29. What's the most romantic experience you've ever had?
That is not for sharing on a public blog.

30. How would you like to die and in what form would you choose to come back?
However I die, I would wish I am at peace with the idea, and with my life, when it happens. I'm not sure I would like to come back. Even if reincarnation theories were proven, it would be an entirely new person then, with no memories of who I am. So, would I really be coming back?

Here it is! I kind of liked this little questionnaire. Who knows, perhaps that's going to become a tag or something. That's presomptuous, but if you publish your own answers to these questions on your blog, please do let me know!


  1. "Her Morning Elegance", by Oren Lavie - So good! And the video is great, too. I didn't know it, thank you, Florie. I'm actually listening to the whole album as I am commenting and thinking about the responses I would give to the questionnaire. Interesting questions, I hope it will become a tag!

    1. This song is great, isn't it? I love how light and airy it is, and the while being a bit mysterious... Perfect theme song! I'd love to see your answers to the questionnaire ;)

  2. For some reason, I'm happy to hear you swear a lot! I do too, despite my best intentions. And home is my favourite hiding place too. :)

    1. Haha I'm happy is the idea of my swearing makes you happy :) (oddly). Home is the perfect hiding place, isn't it?

  3. I liked to read your answers, so I was thinking about what I'd answer and ended up filling the questionnaire.
    Also, I really like your blog.
    Here's mine: https://thecuriouskindblog.wordpress.com/

    1. Thanks Curious! I went to see your blog, it's very nice. I enjoyed reading your answers to the questionnaire :)

  4. Nice questions. I also couldn't immediately think of any book character I'd like to spend my life with, as most are either flat or pretty complicated. Until you answered question 18, and I thought I would like to have the fox from Le Petit Prince in my life to teach me lessons :).

    1. The fox from le Petit Prince is such a nice choice. I thought about an animal as companion when I read the question, but somehow the fox didn't come to my mind...