where i reveal my true nature

#47 – Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire: 101 Luminaries Ponder Love, Death, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life 

dear kafka,

The Proust Questionnaire, according to Vanity Fair magazine, “has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature.”

If that is true, I like to share my true nature with you by answering the questionnaire myself.

Some of these questions are really worth thinking about.

This is an idea: Do the Proust Questionnaire every year and compare the answers.

1.What is your idea of perfect happiness?
An early breakfast, followed by a long walk in Tokyo accompanied by my Fuji camera, cool weather and solitude.


I’m the last person on earth with unlimited supply of food and water and access to electricity.

2.What is your greatest fear?
Torture or being buried alive – don’t know which is worse.

3.What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My great impatience.

4.What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Our great selfishness.

5.Which living person do you most admire?

6.What is your greatest extravagance?
Business class travel.

7.What is your current state of mind?

8.What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

9.On what occasion do you lie?
Very often, to myself.

10.What do you most dislike about your appearance?

11.Which living person do you most despise?

12.What is the quality you most like in a man?

13.What is the quality you most like in a woman?

14.Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Fuck; cool; really; you know.

15.What or who is the greatest love of your life?

16.When and where were you happiest?
When I was in love and not working.

17.Which talent would you most like to have?
To write simple, beautiful sentences.

18.If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would like to sweat less.

19.What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Taking care of my dad when he was dying and making sure my mom has a comfortable life.

20.If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
No one. I don’t wish to come back. But if I don’t have a choice, I like to come back as a panda in a protected area with enough bamboo.

21.Where would you most like to live?
Where there’s air-conditioning, cool weather, internet connection, books and good street food.

22.What is your most treasured possession?
My mind.

23.What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
To marry a noisy, no good person.

24.What is your favorite occupation?

25.What is your most marked characteristic?

26.What do you most value in your friends?
They don’t take themselves too seriously.

27.Who are your favorite writers?
Haruki Murakami; Raymond Carver; Nick Hornby; Cheryl Strayed; Malcolm Gladwell.

28.Who is your hero of fiction?
Stevens the butler from The Remains of the Day.

29.Which historical figure do you most identify with?
No one.

30.Who are your heroes in real life?
Nelson Mandela; Cheryl Strayed.

31.What are your favorite names?

32.What is it that you most dislike?
People abusing power.

33.What is your greatest regret?
Not investing when I was younger.

34.How would you like to die?

35.What is your motto?
Did not have one until now – “live the moments of my daily life deeply”.

Readers, I love your feedback! Do you think this is me?

Selected responses from the book

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
David Bowie: Talent.

How would you like to die?
George Carlin: To just explode spontaneously in someone’s living room.

On what occasion do you lie?
Deepak Chopra: Only when I’m speaking to God.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Ellen DeGeneres: I don’t know how happiness could get any more perfect, but I think it would involve more puppies.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Andrew Weil: Having no desires.

If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
Quincy Jones: One of my daughters’ dogs.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Fran Lebowitz: French.

What is your motto?
Conan O’Brien: “Ape must not kill ape.”

What is your greatest fear?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: I am petrified of bikini waxing. I had a very bad experience in 1978.

Mark Zuckerberg inspired me to start an annual personal project – read a non-fiction book every week and write about it. 

My previous newsletters are here: https://isaiahlim.wordpress.com/category/isaiahlim_newsletter/

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