Ross Melanson’s answers to the Proust Questionnaire

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
To have a profound sense of something and not being able to find anyone interested in hearing your expression of it. I guess what I am saying is that I think the ethos of indifference is the greatest human misery.

Where would you like to live?
Hands down – New York City!

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
To be surrounded by people ignited by the power of their own curiosity or by the curiosity of others and to be able to encounter anything that these people might do, write, paint, sing, or produce because of it.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
The Reverend John Ames and his antagonist, Jack Boughton, of Gilead. I think that I am attracted to these characters because both of these characters, in my mind, are manifestations of courage.

Who are your favorite characters in history?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Albert Einstein, the Apostle Paul and that “being” who was implicit in the relational space between Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung.

Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
The American writer Marilynne Robinson and the American sculpture Sarah Sze.

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
Lila Ames, a character in the novel Home who, in my mind, delivers one of the most poignant and affirming lines of contemporary literature – “… a person can change. Everything can change.”

Your favorite painter?
Earlier in my life, I would have said Picasso, but now I would say Jenny Saville

Your favorite musician?
There are parts of me who would say Ani Difranco, parts that would Bob Dylan and parts that would say any number of pop female singers from 1970 to today.

The quality you most admire in a man?
Curiosity, imagination, independent thought, empathy.

The quality you most admire in a woman?
Curiosity, imagination, independent thought, empathy.

Your favorite virtue?
Honesty or whichever prevailing virtue that a person I know lacks.

Your favorite occupation?
Reading, writing, creating, engaging, or any activity that defies complacency or indifference.

Who would you have liked to be?
The person I was meant to be apart from the person who I have allowed myself to become.

Your most marked characteristic?
It is either my profound sense on engagement or my profound sense of self-doubt.

What do you most value in your friends?
The ability to empathize without being indulgent.

What is your principle defect?
Allowing the wrong-minded opinions and views of others about me or a subject to so profoundly effect me that they undermine my own.

What, to your mind, would be the greatest of misfortunes?
Never to have left my hometown.

What would you like to be?
The version of the future version of myself that I have in my head.

What is your favorite color?
Prussian Blue

What is your favorite flower?
Van Gogh’s sunflowers and, then, real sunflowers.

What is your favorite bird?
Chickadee.

Who are your favorite prose writers?
Marilynne Robinson, Marilynne Robinson, Victor Hugo, John Irving and Marilynne Robinson.

Who are your favorite poets?
Emily Dickinson, John Donne, and any poet who has every written a line that I have read and then wished I had had the genius to write.

Who are your favorite heroines of history?
Queen Esther.

What are your favorite names?
The one’s that suit the people who have them.

What is it you most dislike?
The worst qualities in myself or others.

What historical figures do you most despise?
Hitler, Stalin, and Satan

What event in military history do you most admire?
The storming the Bestial. Having said this, I would be tempted to state that public posting of the Ninety-Five Theses is a more important event from history in my mind. However, in my understanding of it, these are, essentially, the same thing.

What natural gift would you most like to possess?
My entire exercise of envy has been focused on my inability to sing.

How would you like to die?
In my sleep while dreaming myself into being.

What is your present state of mind?
What does it matter, this moment is fleeting.

What is your motto?
Don’t trouble trouble till trouble troubles you. Which is a motto I have never really lived.

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