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Vanity Fair magazine has a long tradition that’s being made into a book. I suspect it’ll be a movie before too long! There’s just something wonderful and inspiring about getting to know other people better, whether it be stars, friends or even ourselves.
Readers of Vanity Fair know that the back page has long been given over to the “Proust Questionnaire,” which asks personal questions of celebrities. The “Proust Questionnaire” dates back to an English parlor game in the 1800’s, where–in a pre-TV society–Brits would gather and ask questions designed to reveal more of oneself than they otherwise might.
Vanity Fair took the idea and has been putting the questions to celebrities for decades, and now there is even an interactive version There is also an online interactive version where you can compare your answers to those of the stars.
Some of the best ones have now been compiled into the “Proust” book by Graydon Carter. Sometimes the answers seem contrived, sometimes authentic, and sometimes surprising. A sampling:


Walter Cronkite was asked what he’d come back as if he died: “A seagull–graceful in flight, rapacious in appetite.”
Bette Midler was asked which living person she most despises: “The Bluetooth-wearing S.U.V. driver who idles in front of my building.”
Aretha Franklin was asked her greatest regret: Not learning to read music. However, Juilliard is still on my mind! I’ve come within two blocks of the building, and my schedule would not allow for me to enroll at the time.”
Ray Charles was asked his favorite motto: “God helps those who help themselves.”
Edward Kennedy was asked when he lied: “When I tell each of my sisters that she’s the prettiest.”
For the celebrities who answer authentically, “Proust” offers a nice view into their inner thoughts and soulful search for meaning in life. Perhaps it could also offer us all a grand alternative to staring at a TV. Let’s talk to each other. And let’s start by asking good questions. “Proust,” in either magazine or book form, is a great start.

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