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Pixellated photo of a young David Bowie.

David Bowie Answers The Proust Questionnaire


A historical exercise that allows us to dimension precious aspects about Bowie’s genius.

The Proust Questionnaire is the historical precedent of our personality tests. Marcel Proust did not create it, but the author of In Search of Lost Time was an enthusiast who, throughout the different periods of his life, introduced key questions to explore creative life.

It would not be far-fetched to draft certain parallelisms between Proust and David Bowie: both are in constant analysis of themselves and their culture through an art that is supremely personal, but not exclusive because of it.

To reinvent himself through the successive chapters of his own career has characterized Bowie’s extroverted search, while the Proustian oeuvre —and the impression it left on the questionnaire— is the method of introversion of a man who dares to question his own artistic practice, looking at it through his own vital praxis.

Here are Bowie’s answers, which appeared first in Vanity Fair:

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?
Discovering morning.

What is your greatest fear?
Converting kilometers to miles.

What historical figure do you most identify with?
Santa Claus.

Which living person do you most admire?

Who are your heroes in real life?
The consumer.

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?
“Chthonic,” “miasma.”

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.

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