What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Indefinite separation from Laurie, being unforgiven for a wrong you know you've committed, loss of faith, doing one's best and failing none the less, having a loved one die.
Where would you like to live? One version of an honest answer would be "right here." Another would be "London, Prague, Vienna, Paris, somewhere outside but near major East Coast cities, I think I would like to spend a lot of time in India, and retiring in Downieville."
What is your idea of earthly happiness? Achieving earnest contentment and tranquility regardless of external circumstances.
To what faults do you feel most indulgent?Worry. Occasional snobbery.
Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
Odysseus, Hamlet, Falstaff, Huckleberry Finn, Faust, Siegfried, Edmond Dantes, Wodehouse's Jeeves, probably several I'll kick myself later for not remembering.
Who are your favorite characters in history? Socrates, Epictetus, St. Peter, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther, John Woolman, William Wilberforce, Ben Franklin, Oscar Wilde (I don't want to overlap too much from the favorite authors and artists lists, but the man himself was fascinating as well), Virginia Woolf, Alexander Woollcott, Warhol, Edie Sedgwick, Glenn Gould, Karl Lagerfeld
Who are your favorite heroines in real life? Those who don't "swallow the lie." Women who are who they are unapologetically. Women who seek wisdom.
Who are your favorite heroines of fiction? Brünnhilde, Clarisse McClellan, Mrs. Dalloway, Shaw's St. Joan, Jane Eyre, Miranda, Portia, again, others I'm sure.
Your favorite painter? I would most likely say Toulouse-Lautrec. Whenever I'm at a museum which contain them, I seem to park in front of his work the longest.
Your favorite musician? Oh dear, that's difficult. Probably Beethoven.
The quality you most admire in a man? Wisdom. Virtue. Intelligence. Curiosity.
The quality you most admire in a woman? Wisdom. Virtue. Intelligence. Curiosity.
Your favorite virtue? Either tranquility or humility. Or frugality. I am better at the latter.
Your favorite occupation? My ideal occupation would be to make a living somehow encouraging a love for the arts and teaching about them.
Who would you have liked to be? A better version of myself. Happier, more content, kinder, more loving.I think, in my estimation, an idea life would be similar to Felix Mendelssohn's. Happy, productive with excellent and enduring output, and mercifully short.
Your most marked characteristic? Um, I'm told I'm very quiet in person. Sort of invisible in a room full of people.
What do you most value in your friends? Endurance. As in endurance of the friendship. Having just lost my oldest continual friend I've realized what a treasure that was.
What is your principle defect? Anxiety.
What would you like to be? I would like to be a person who raises awareness of and kindles love for great art and literature. Like a Bernard Berenson or an Alexander Woollcott or a Harold Bloom. Or even a Sister Wendy. They all had careers that eventually elevated them to that level though. I am one literary critic crying out in the wilderness.
What is your favorite color? Purple. You can tell by my prose.
What is your favorite flower? Orchids and sunflowers. Which for some reason seems to me like both ends of the flower spectrum in a way. At least as far as flower seriousness goes.
What is your favorite bird? I admire the tenacity of penguins.
Who are your favorite prose writers? Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, John Gardner, Jeanette Winterson, Djuna Barnes, Dickens, Capote, Bradbury, Richard Brautigan, Hunter Thompson, Spalding Gray, Caitlin Kiernan, Wallace Shawn.
Who are your favorite poets? I'm afraid I'm predictable here.Shakespeare, Milton, David, Dante, Burns, Keats, Shelley, Byron, Whitman, Dickinson, Verlaine, Baudelaire. For moderns, also predictable: Ginsberg, Mary Oliver, Gary Snyder, Robert Pinsky, Seamus Heaney, Tony Hoagland, Billy Collins, June Melby, Brendan Constantine.
Who are your heroes in real life? As in people I know? My dad. My 8th grade history teacher Mr. Boyle. Michael Nehring and Tom Bradac, two director/actors from Shakespeare Orange County who had a tremendous influence on me.
Who are your favorite heroines of history? Joan of Arc, Emma Goldman, Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth I, Dorothy Parker.
What are your favorite names? If we had a boy child, we would name it Dalton Alexander.If we had a girl child, we would name her Temperance. I don't know if we've settled on a middle name for a girl although I always like the granola sounding ones like Peace or Shalom or Luna.
What is it you most dislike? Automobiles, willful ignorance, anxiety.
What historical figures do you most despise? Judas, Robespierre, certainly Hitler, Norman Mailer, Pol Pot, Nixon.
What event in military history do you most admire? The rare periods of peace in human history.
What natural gift would you most like to possess? Speaking in a manner where people don't interrupt me. I've observed people who seem to have this and also observed that I do not have this. But I don't know what I'm doing wrong.
How would you like to die? The manner is of little importance although I should like to die with the assurance that the loved ones I leave behind will be provided for and I should like to die in a way consistent with a virtuous life.
What is your present state of mind? I am enjoying doing this more than other things I could be doing.
What is your motto? We'll give Socrates the final words:
"A man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong- acting the part of a good man or of a bad."and:
"Not life, but good life, is to be chiefly valued."