Éric Poindron’s Weird Questionnaire:
1 – Write the first sentence of a novel, short story, or book of the weird yet to be written.
She slowly rolled on to her back and propped herself up on her elbows, and, but seeing now could no longer disagree with the mooing-consonant-less sounds coming from somewhere behind her in the brightening room, there was, and in a just matter-of-fact way, a small real , perfectly formed – like maybe a 50% photocopy - and probably anatomically correct duplicate of herself standing at, or rather on the foot of their bed, and stood with its, her... its(?) arms straight out in front of her, it... her(?), palms up in a classic gesture of offering and in which stood another smaller, like downsized to another 25% photocopy, duplicate of herself - also very real, very anatomically correct and also stood stock straight, arms out, palms up offering a third duplicate, in the outstretched hands of which stood offering something too small and too delicate to make out at this distance, in this non-light, but that she could just tell she was going to be able to recognise as she leaned further forward, still sat.
2 – Without looking at your watch: what time is it? 16:50
3 – Look at your watch. What time is it? 17:36
4 – How do you explain this—or these—discrepancy(ies) in time?
Our perception of time passing is bound up with how much fun, or not, we feel we’re having since the last time checked. So I suppose the further you are behind the real time, the more fun you must be having?
5 – Do you believe in meteorological predictions?
6 – Do you believe in astrological predictions?
7 – Do you gaze at the sky and stars by night?
Sometimes, but never intentionally... it’s hard to see them in a modern town, or a country that has more cloudy days than not.
8 – What do you think of the sky and stars by night?
Nothing really, I find that it’s a good way of clearing my mind.
9 – What were you looking at before starting this questionnaire?
An article about how black men are still more likely to earn less as adults than white men even if they’re from a family that is as “well-off” to begin with (New York Times), and a tutorial on the best way to develop 4x5” sheet film in a regular developing tank.
10 – What do cathedrals, churches, mosques, shrines, synagogues, and other religious monuments inspire in you?
An appreciation of their architecture, beauty and the skill of the people who made them, but nothing about god(s).
11 – What would you have “seen” had you been blind?
Whatever my mind could conjure up to “see” the sounds I hear, and the things I touch.
12 – What would you want to see if you were blind?
That’s difficult to answer, anything I can think of are things that I’ve already seen, so would want to “see” again.
13 – Are you afraid?
Sometimes, isn’t everyone?
14 – What of?
Other than the obvious? Almost all and any social occasions/situations, having to make conversation with strangers. Writing or talking about myself, so knowing that there might be someone reading this now, and what follows, gives me the fantods.
15 – What is the last weird film you’ve seen?
I’m not sure. Not many of the films I’ve seen I would necessarily describe as weird, that’s not to say that they might not be considered so by someone else, but so I would have to say “Synecdoche, New York” is probably the weirdest I’ve seen recently.
16 – Whom are you afraid of?
People, with all their complexities and secrets.
17 – Have you ever been lost?
Yes, regularly. Almost every time I go somewhere new, it’s a type of exploration.
18 – Do you believe in ghosts?
19 – What is a ghost?
They are something different to everyone who sees one. It’s a projection of something missed, something comforting, the manifestation of a fear, a trick of the mind, the construction of our imaginations built on not knowing what caused “that” sound, “that movement”. A story.
20 – At this very moment, what sound(s) can you hear, apart from the computer?
There’s a phone vibrating/ringing upstairs
21 – What is the most terrifying sound you’ve ever heard – for example, “the night was like the cry of a wolf”?
Not so much a sound, but rather the absence of sound, like the no-sound of a wet piece of paper being torn in two, or that of a mind tearing itself apart without a voice to yell out.
22 – Have you done something weird today or in the last few days?
I watched as a group of people clambered around a mountainside looking through discarded glass bottles.
23 – Have you ever been to confession?
24 – You’re at confession, so confess the unspeakable.
25 – Without cheating: what is a “cabinet of curiosities”?
It’s a collection of things interesting or exotic (to the collector) a collector finds and then puts on display.
26 – Do you believe in redemption?
In the theological sense? No.
But I believe that it’s possible for people to make up for mistakes, or bad things that they have done.
27 – Have you dreamed tonight?
Doesn’t everyone every night, even when they don’t remember them.
28 – Do you remember your dreams?
Not usually, and only very rarely (maybe only 1 every few 4/5 months). However, last night and the night before I did.
29 – What was your last dream?
I was travelling through an unknown city in a canal boat with Z___ and G___, but we somehow ran out of water and were lost, and so we were driving (?) on the road through narrow streets avoiding pedestrians and cars. We finally got back to a canal, but by then we were going too fast and the canal boat capsized in a corner and suddenly we were upside-down in the water and I was trying to untangle myself from a seatbelt. It was completely dark for what seemed like too long, and then suddenly I was awake but still holding my breath.
30 – What does fog make you think of?
The absence of things.
31 – Do you believe in animals that don’t exist?
No, but I’d prefer it if some of those that don’t exist did.
32 – What do you see on the walls of the room where you are?
Nothing, the walls in this room are empty.
33 – If you became a magician, what would be the first thing you’d do?
Have a cup of tea.
34 – What is a madman?
Someone who can claim with absolute certainty that he/she is not mad, but that everyone else around him/her is.
35 – Are you mad?
I don’t think so, but if I were I don’t suppose that I’d know I was, so I hope not. Better to ask someone who knows me.
36 – Do you believe in the existence of secret societies?
Yes, because we know of some that believe themselves to be secret - so I suppose there must be some better at keeping themselves secret.
37 – What was the last weird book you read?
I have to admit, I don’t read many books that would be considered weird, so it would probably have to be the same as Q48 that follows, but that this would have been a long time ago.
38 – Would you like to live in a castle?
39 – Have you seen something weird today?
40 – What is the weirdest film you’ve ever seen?
Do surrealist films still count as weird these days?
41 – Would you like to live in an abandoned train station?
Yes, but only if it’s an old train station rather than the modern non-space type.
42 – Can you see the future?
No, but I can imagine what it may be like.
43 – Have you considered living abroad?
Yes and have, and still want to.
44 – Where?
Somewhere with long days that isn’t hot, or any city in the mountains.
45 – Why?
I think it’s important to experience living in different places, with different people/cultures/languages. It’s great inspiration and a variety of experiences can surely only be a good thing.
46 – What is the weirdest film you’ve ever owned?
Like Zosia, the weirdest film I’ve ever owned was photographic film rather than a movie. I once bought an old plate camera which came with a pack of nitro film, which for people who don’t know - is what photo film used to made of before they started using acetate (you might have some old film that has “safety-film” written in the rebate) as a base, but that is now considered too dangerous because of its tendency to spontaneously combust under certain conditions. We managed to develop some and one of the sheets of film turned out to be the portrait of a woman holding a beach ball, stood in field. We decided to keep the film for a while, but we were a little worried that it might burn down the flat, so we kept it in our (metal) enamelled bath tub with a saucepan on top of it when neither of us was home to keep an eye on it.
47 – Would you liked to have lived in a vicarage?
48 – What is the weirdest book you’ve ever read?
I have the same problem as with the weirdest film questions, so again I’m not sure what to answer. Ionescu’s “Rhinoceros” (a written copy of the play) is quite weird if you were to just read the plot as a literal tale I guess.
49 – Which do you like better, globes or hourglasses?
50 – Which do you like better, antique magnifying glasses or bladed weapons?
Antique magnifying glass.
51 – What, in all likelihood, lies in the depths of Loch Ness?
Sadly, just rocks and silt.
52 – Do you like taxidermied animals?
No, not really. But there’s a museum in Naples that has a collection of them from (I think) the 19th century which is completely fascinating and beautiful.
53 – Do you like walking in the rain?
Yes, but it’s something we get far too much opportunity to do, so it’s hard to continue to enjoy it.
54 – What goes on in tunnels?
Depends who, or what is in there I suppose.
55 – What do you look at when you look away from this questionnaire?
The middle distance between myself and the floor.
56 – What does this famous line inspire in you: “And when he had crossed the bridge, the phantoms came to meet him.”?
It makes me think of every time I’ve returned home after a long break.
57 – Without cheating: where is that famous line from?
It’s incredibly difficult not to cheat, but I honestly don’t know, I’d like to say it sounds familiar... having now just cheated, it was absolutely not what I would have guessed, or thought.
58 – Do you like walking in graveyards or the woods by night?
No, I prefer to do those things during the day. It’s better to be able to see the trees and graves I think.
59 – Write the last line of a novel, short story, or book of the weird yet to be written.
The sun could now be definitely described as up, and the closed lids of her eyes no longer kept it at bay entirely, she briefly considered turning her head to the side away from the pinking, capillary tracked windows filling her vision, but was distracted again by the disembodied voice saying only “had nothing still not changed?”.
60 – Without looking at your watch: what time is it? 18:00
61 – Look at your watch. What time is it? 18:43