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Thursday, June 12, 2014
Published in the May-June Issue of SMALL PRESS REVIEW
The SPR Questionnaire:
Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
1. What is your idea of happiness? Working on what I’m passionate about and living with whom I’m passionate about.
2. What is your idea of misery? Being the last one left alive.
3. Where would you most like to live? Wherever my beloved is but if I have to pick a physical place, it would be back home, Brooklyn NY.
4. What is your favorite virtue? Kindness – and mercy
5. What do you most value in your friends? A hand to hold – and let go and let go of “sensa rancor”
6. What is your biggest weakness? Ohh – so many to choose from – I’m awfully susceptible to proclamations or intimations that I’m special. I’m also terribly susceptible to whatever is proclaimed or intimated by someone who actually is special.
7. What do you enjoy doing most? Working, making love, listening to Beethoven, listening to – and watching – Callas, reading and re-reading; live theatre.
8. What is your most marked characteristic?
Physically? I had great legs. Still good just not so important anymore. Personally? I think a lot of people would say that I can be very cold. It’s a defensive reaction – I learned it in the womb.
9. If not yourself, who would you like to be?
At this point in my life, I think I’d be very uncomfortable being anyone else. I might like to try on someone else’s personality for awhile, like trying on someone else’s clothes, but I have all I can handle with my own demons and would rather not take on someone else’s. Still, as a “try on”, I’d go for Callas, maybe Jean Paul Sartre or Einstein, Catherine the Great, a Rockette.
10. Who are your favorite writers?
Anonymous is a favorite. Dostoyevsky probably #1; Gordimer, Paule Marshall, Coetzee, Balzac, James Farrell, the Greek playwrights, Toni Morrison, Edna O’Brien, Anatole France, W.G. Sebald, Beckett. Ignazio Silone, Pessoa, Verga.
11. Who are your favorite poets?
Funny you would separate poets from writers – this list is pretty fluid but right now: Long Dead: Blake, Dickenson, Yeats, Browning, Shelley, Keats, Byron, Pope, Donne; Quasi Contemporary: Eliot, WC Williams, Swinburne, Levertov, Auden, Bishop, Stevens, Dylan Thomas. Frost; Today – dead and alive: Dario, Khoury-Ghata, Rich, Kasischuke, Kumin, Ginsberg, Olds, Doubiago, Larkin, Pastan, Anna Swir. And speaking of poets vs. writers, I am often struck by how very well poets write non-fiction, essays and how infrequently their poetry, reaches the same level – writing poetry seems to aid the writing of prose but truly excellent, long living poetry, poetry as art, remains infrequent.
12. Who are your favorite heroes and heroines in fiction?
I don’t know that I have any – lots of favorite characters though, like Madame Bovary, Miss Julie, Juliet, Lady Macbeth, Medea, Electra, Antigone; on the male side: Ivan Karamazov, Richard III, Pessoa’s heteronyms and probably above all, the nameless 1st person narrator of Dostoyevsky’s “Notes From Underground.”
13. Who are the heroes and heroines in your life?
I think Americans tend to overdo the heroic a bit, but I would say: so many women of color – men too – some that I know personally and others that I’ve only read about. And though I wouldn’t call them heroes or heroines, some well known people also, like Sartre and Susan Sontag who have influenced my thinking. And Tony Judt, Isabel Allende, Arundahti Roy, Stephen J. Gould, Angela Davis, Bernie Sanders, Jim Hightower. Resisters and people who work and fight every day for the powerless and hungry, like the late Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker, like the people I’ve worked with over the years at Project Angel Food – I come in now and then, they’re at it every day, feeding the sick and homebound.
14. Who are your favorite heroes and heroines in history?
Lady Livia, wife of Augustus (even though she was a monster), Beethoven, Vittorio di Sica and Ingmar Bergman, da Vinci, all the female composers we’ve never gotten to hear, Voltaire, Nietzsche.
15. Which historical figures do you most dislike?
The usual: Hitler, Stalin, Attila, Dick Cheney
16. What event in history do you most admire?
The development of theatre in ancient Athens and the building of aqueducts by Rome; the development of socialism as practiced in Scandinavia, France and Germany
17. What social movement do you most admire?
The Civil Rights, Women’s Liberation, and Free Speech Movements of the 60s; Occupy – I’m still hoping.
18. What natural gift would you most like to possess?
19. How would you like to die?
Very quietly and moderately quickly.
20. What is your present state of mind?
Both anxiety ridden and content: I’m antsy, don’t have enough time, am never satisfied, and am happy with my lot.
21. Which fault in others do you most easily tolerate?
I’m not terribly patient but I think I’m most tolerant, in general, of human foibles, of our poor judgments, our ignorance, sometimes plain stupidity, of not thinking things through.
22. Which fault in yourself do you most easily tolerate?
Rambling – especially when I’m very tired.
23. What is your motto?
From Beckett: I can’t go on. I go on.