In my work with clients, I have always said that questions are more powerful than answers, and this belief is largely based on my experiences in business.  But I have had personal experiences that have led me to the same conclusion.  Years ago, one of my sons came to visit and after some time trying to be polite to each other with just ‘talk,’ he said, “Dad, can I ask you a hard question?’’  I replied, “Is the question hard to ask, or hard for me to answer?”  His question was sort of a breakthrough and respected him so much for being able to ask it.  Enough about that; one of the questions that I have lived with for many years now is ‘What should I read?’

I do like to read.  And although my selection of recurring readings is pretty varied, much like my choices in music, there are a few authors and publications that I do seem to be attracted to.  When I lived in the village, I subscribed to “Casa y Campo,” which is sort of a variation of Country Homes or Architectural Digest for Mallorca.  But when I moved to Sol y Mar, I stopped buying “Casa y Campo,” and now, I tend to buy whatever magazine strikes my fancy at any given moment.  Having said that, I do still receive one publication through the post each month.  It is

“Vanity Fair.“

I am not sure if you read “Vanity Fair” or not, but I do find it especially interesting.  And there is one page of each issue that piques my interest every time the magazine appears in my buzon (post box).  The page that I always go to first, often before I even see what is in the issue, is the Proust Questionnaire, located on the last page.

Marcel Proust (who lived from 1871 to 1922) is credited with putting together a series of questions that are designed to reveal quite a bit about the person responding to them.  Although it wasn’t Proust who began to do this, the questions are now known as the Proust Questionnaire.  These questions, or more appropriately, and adaptation of them, have also been an important part of James Lipton’s questioning on The Actor’s Studio programme.  I could just continue to rabbit on about who else uses these questions, but instead, I thought it might be nice for me to answer them myself.  So, in the spirit of full-disclosure and all that rot, here are Proust’s questions (and my answers).

What is your most marked characteristic? Confidence and ability to focus I think

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Earning the respect of some pretty smart people

When and where were you happiest? When I found out I was to be a father

What is your greatest regret?  Not having been able to see more of my boys as they were growing up

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Spending time with those I love

What is your most treasured possession? Something my father gave me; the ability to figure it all out

Where would you like to live? I live there now

What is your greatest fear? Living too long and becoming well and truly ill

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I do struggle with the whole patience thing

What is the trait you most deplore in others? When someone says they will do something, and

then don’t

What is your main fault? That’s kind of an accusatory question, isn’t it?

What is your favourite occupation? Going there

What is your favourite colour and flower?  Blue, unless it is a flower, then yellow

Who is your favourite author? Well, I am I guess but I quite fond of Jorge Bucay, David Baldacci, and J.M. Barrie

Who are your favourite heroines in real life? Beryl Markham, Dorothy Koster, Margaret Ann Dennis

Who are your favourite heroes in real life? Thich Nhat Hahn, Nelson Mandella

Who are your favourite painters and composers? Anyone who has truly mastered water-colours; Burt Bacharach, George Gershwin, (early electric) Bob Dylan, and of course, Brian Wilson

What is the military event I admire the most? The turning of swords into plowshares

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Sincerity

What is your greatest extravagance? I haven’t found it yet

What is your favourite journey? Petra was pretty great, but I don’t think I have experienced my favourite journey yet

What is it that you most dislike? People don’t take responsibility for their own actions

What is the quality you most like in a man? Honesty and integrity

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Honesty and integrity

What do you most value in your friends? Just knowing they are there

If you were to come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? Not sure I would even want to come back

If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? Someone who makes others happy

How would you like to die? Just going to sleep as my father did seems pretty great

What is your present state of mind? Floating


And then from Lipton’s variations of the questions:

What is your favourite word? Yes

What is your least favourite word? No

What turns you on? Quite a few things actually; how much time do you have?

What turns you off? Vegetables that are green, and begin with A

What sound or noise do you love? The sound of waves lapping against the hull

What sound or noise do you hate? I try not to hate anything, but gun shots are not nice to hear

What is your favourite curse word? I think you should ask Kel this one

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I have changed mine several

times already so I am not sure anymore

What profession would you not like to do? Anything where thinking was not a requirement

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?  Welcome home James


explaining the importance of questions

random picture of incredibly clear water in Andratx

random picture of a fab building in Palma

random picture of the one answering the questions


random picture of veggies at Oliver Market

random picture of silly kitties in Los Angeles


random picture of Andratx at night, with random light

random picture of correct proportions for nautical ensign

non-random picture of Matthew, a few years ago

non-random picture of David, a few years ago

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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, James B. Rieley