Here's a French cultural parlour game designed to awaken your creative skills. Take the questions from here, post your responses and leave a link in the comments (or tweet me @plashingvole). I'm not sure it tells you that much about me: the problem of being a fully postmodern literature academic is that there's nothing spontaneous or innocent about anything we do: we're fully aware that everything is a second-order simulation, a quotation, a performance. Still, it's a bit of fun.
1 – Write the first sentence of a novel, short story, or book of the weird yet to be written.
It was teatime in the graveyard and an anticipatory flutter ran through the assembled animals.
2 – Without looking at your watch: what time is it?
3 – Look at your watch. What time is it?
4 – How do you explain this — or these — discrepancy(ies) in time?
I have little concept of time.
5 – Do you believe in meteorological predictions?
To an extent.
6 – Do you believe in astrological predictions?
7 – Do you gaze at the sky and stars by night?
All I see in the sky from my flat is the police helicopter and a ghastly orange glow.
8 – What do you think of the sky and stars by night?
Astronomy is a faith-based activity in this city.
9 – What were you looking at before starting this questionnaire?
BoingBoing. I should have been marking.
10 – What do cathedrals, churches, mosques, shrines, synagogues, and other religious monuments inspire in you?
11 – What would you have “seen” had you been blind?
12 – What would you want to see if you were blind?
13 – Are you afraid?
14 – What of?
15 – What is the last weird film you’ve seen?
16 – Whom are you afraid of?
17 – Have you ever been lost?
18 – Do you believe in ghosts?
19 – What is a ghost?
An explanation without investigation.
20 – At this very moment, what sound(s) can you hear, apart from the computer?
21 – What is the most terrifying sound you’ve ever heard – for example, “the night was like the cry of a wolf”?
Air-raid sirens while emerging from sleep, before the end of the Cold War.
22 – Have you done something weird today or in the last few days?
Define your terms.
23 – Have you ever been to confession?
24 – You’re at confession, so confess the unspeakable.
I genuinely like this song.
25 –Without cheating: what is a “cabinet of curiosities”?
An early museum exhibition.
26 –Do you believe in redemption?
Depends on whether you're speaking transcendentally or personally. Yes if the latter.
27 – Have you dreamed tonight?
28 – Do you remember your dreams?
29 – What was your last dream?
Mixed up with a Radio 4 discussion of Jamaican patois, I was visiting a school with colleagues.
30 – What does fog make you think of?
The Hound of the Baskervilles.
31 – Do you believe in animals that don’t exist?
Yes: extinct ones.
32 – What do you see on the walls of the room where you are?
My photographs, Stoke City poster, Tom Gauld prints, Communist memorabilia, Angela Davis poster, grammar posters, Tree of Literature posters in Danish, John Peel postcard, Dickens quote, Shakespeare badge, political postcards, Steve Bell and XKCD strips.
33 – If you became a magician, what would be the first thing you’d do?
Re-order my books without physical effort.
34 – What is a madman?
Society's current category for those consigned to mental institutions.
35 – Are you mad?
Angry? Unhinged? Definition unclear. I'd be the last to know, anyway.
36 – Do you believe in the existence of secret societies?
There may be some, but they're self-indulgent. The real plots are open: such as neoliberalism.
37 – What was the last weird book you read?
38 – Would you like to live in a castle?
That depends on which rooms and its condition.
39 – Have you seen something weird today?
40 – What is the weirdest film you’ve ever seen?
41 – Would you like to live in an abandoned train station?
If converted nicely, yes.
42 – Can you see the future?
Only fragments of a second ahead.
43 – Have you considered living abroad?
44 – Where?
The Faroe Islands.
45 – Why?
Like me, they're cold and remote.
46 – What is the weirdest film you’ve ever owned?
47 – Would you liked to have lived in a vicarage?
Not with a vicar. Otherwise, it depends on the architecture.
48 – What is the weirdest book you’ve ever read?
Hard to say. Gravity's Rainbow is disorienting. So's Albert Angelo, and The Erasers.
49 – Which do you like better, globes or hourglasses?
50 – Which do you like better, antique magnifying glasses or bladed weapons?
Bladed weapons: I am a fencer.
51 – What, in all likelihood, lies in the depths of Loch Ness?
Rusty Irn Bru cans.
52 – Do you like taxidermied animals?
53 – Do you like walking in the rain?
54 – What goes on in tunnels?
55 – What do you look at when you look away from this questionnaire?
Academic books about Anne of Green Gables.
56 – What does this famous line inspire in you: “And when he had crossed the bridge, the phantoms came to meet him.”?
57 – Without cheating: where is that famous line from?
No idea. Though I've looked it up now.
58 – Do you like walking in graveyards or the woods by night?
58 – Write the last line of a novel, short story, or book of the weird yet to be written.
Using one tentacle to pull down the blind, Alan finally turned his attention to the girl.
59 – Without looking at your watch: what time is it?
60 – Look at your watch. What time is it?
That was fun. Wonder if I still have any friends. Go here to see an actual, brilliant writer take the test.