Tuesday, July 21, 2009

jasper johns's proust questionnaire

here are the answers that jasper johns provided for vanity fair's proust questionnaire in 2007. although the artist grew up in a remote part of georgia where there were virtually no artists, he went on to become one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. my favorite answer is his response to the question "where would you like to live".

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I am not strong on perfection
What is your greatest extravagance?
a frugality that seems to confuse people who work with me
What is your current state of mind?
something like very slow panic
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
desire for approval
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
the tendency toward self-description
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
virtue itself
What is your favorite occupation?
What is your most marked characteristic?
never knowing whether to expand or contract
What do you most value in your friends?
tolerance, I suppose
When and where were you happiest?
Pearl Street in 1950s NYC, but memory distorts
What do you dislike most about your appearance?
what I imagine to be the general effect
Which living person do you most despise?
there is none
On what occasion do you lie?
when I think it is useful
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
no one, no thing
Which talent would you most like to have?
the ability to remember or forget at will
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
my inability to sing or dance
If you could change one thing about your family,what would it be?
no one thing would do the trick
What is your most treasured possession?
my refrigerator
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
intolerable pain of any sort
Who are your favorite writers?
among them, Freud, Helen Keller, Edwin Arlington Robinson
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Jack (be nimble)
Who are your heroes in real life?
dead artists and, a few, alive
What are your favorite names?
William, Mary, Augusta
What is it that you most dislike?
seeing fish with silver skin marinating in cream
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
only my work suggests, perhaps wrongly, an effort in that direction
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
must I decide before I die
Where would you like to live?
not in the past
How would you like to die?
What is your greatest regret?
an absence of clarity
What is your motto?
I have none

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