Max Frisch’s Questionnaire

Max Frisch wrote this “Questionnaire” in 1967. I happened to hear it on Radio 3 last night and tracked down a version on the web here.

If you feel inclined to answer any or all of these questions on your own blogs or in the comments, then please do, though I don’t think that’s the point. What I found interesting was not how I would answer these questions, but having the questions raised at all – being made to think about new things, or about old things in a new way, or having unacknowledged ways of thinking exposed. And some of them are just plain funny (eg q.15):

  1. Are you really interested in the preservation of the human race once you and all the people you know are no longer alive?
  2. State briefly why.
  3. How many of your children do not owe their existence to deliberate intention?
  4. Whom would you rather never have met?
  5. Are you conscious of being in the wrong in relation to some other person (who need not necessarily be aware of it)? If so, does this make you hate yourself – or the other person?
  6. Would you like to have perfect memory?
  7. Give the name of a politician whose death through illness, accident, etc. would fill you with hope. Or do you consider none of them indispensible?
  8. Which person or persons, now dead, would you like to see again?
  9. Which not?
  10. Would you rather have belonged to a different nation (or civilization)? If so, which?
  11. To what age do you wish to live?
  12. If you had the power to put into effect things you consider right, would you do so against the wishes of the majority? (Yes or no)
  13. Why not, if you think they are right?
  14. Which do you find it easier to hate, a group or an individual? And do you prefer to hate individually or as part of a group?
  15. When did you stop believing you could become wiser – or do you still believe it? Give your age.
  16. Are you convinced by your own self-criticism?
  17. What in your opinion do others dislike about you, and what do you dislike about yourself? If not the same thing, which do you find it easier to excuse?
  18. Do you find the thought that you might never have been born (if it ever occurs to you) disturbing?
  19. When you think of someone dead, would you like him to speak to you, or would you rather say something more to him?
  20. Do you love anybody?
  21. How do you know?
  22. Let us assume that you have never killed another human being. How do you account for it?
  23. What do you need in order to be happy?
  24. What are you grateful for?
  25. Which would you rather do: die or live on as a healthy animal? Which animal?
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17 Responses to Max Frisch’s Questionnaire

  1. Chris Atwood says:

    What I love about this questionnaire is that having read it several times I still cannot tell what his “point” is. I have no sense of “where he is on the issues.” Which I see as a sure-fire sign that he is deeper than “the issues.”

  2. Chris Atwood says:

    What I love about this questionnaire is that having read it several times I still cannot tell what his “point” is. I have no sense of “where he is on the issues.” Which I see as a sure-fire sign that he is deeper than “the issues.”

  3. Chris Atwood says:

    What I love about this questionnaire is that having read it several times I still cannot tell what his “point” is. I have no sense of “where he is on the issues.” Which I see as a sure-fire sign that he is deeper than “the issues.”

  4. Chris Atwood says:

    What I love about this questionnaire is that having read it several times I still cannot tell what his “point” is. I have no sense of “where he is on the issues.” Which I see as a sure-fire sign that he is deeper than “the issues.”

  5. Twylah says:

    Hmmm, and why didn’t you share your own answers? “Beside the point” seems a bit facile to me 🙂

  6. Twylah says:

    Hmmm, and why didn’t you share your own answers? “Beside the point” seems a bit facile to me 🙂

  7. Twylah says:

    Hmmm, and why didn’t you share your own answers? “Beside the point” seems a bit facile to me 🙂

  8. Twylah says:

    Hmmm, and why didn’t you share your own answers? “Beside the point” seems a bit facile to me 🙂

  9. Chris Atwood says:

    Because Twylah, the answers are very personal. I mean you think about them and consider what it says about your soul and your relationships and your faith. All of which I do not feel particularly appropriate for a blog comment box.

  10. Chris Atwood says:

    Because Twylah, the answers are very personal. I mean you think about them and consider what it says about your soul and your relationships and your faith. All of which I do not feel particularly appropriate for a blog comment box.

  11. Chris Atwood says:

    Because Twylah, the answers are very personal. I mean you think about them and consider what it says about your soul and your relationships and your faith. All of which I do not feel particularly appropriate for a blog comment box.

  12. Chris Atwood says:

    Because Twylah, the answers are very personal. I mean you think about them and consider what it says about your soul and your relationships and your faith. All of which I do not feel particularly appropriate for a blog comment box.

  13. Twylah says:

    My apologies, Chris — I was unclear. My remark should have been addressed to John H.

  14. Twylah says:

    My apologies, Chris — I was unclear. My remark should have been addressed to John H.

  15. Twylah says:

    My apologies, Chris — I was unclear. My remark should have been addressed to John H.

  16. Twylah says:

    My apologies, Chris — I was unclear. My remark should have been addressed to John H.

  17. Max L. says:

    Q: Are you really interested in the preservation of the human race once you and all the people you know are no longer alive?

    A: My life was never solely my own to begin with. Everyone I know has had ancestors and will likely be an ancestor themselves one day if they live long enough. That said, “preservation” of what exists seems a sorry goal–what about justice? What about the possibility of something new?

    Q: If you had the power to put into effect things you consider right, would you do so against the wishes of the majority? (Yes or no)

    A: White supremacist capitalist patriarchy’s replacement must take its cues from the majority–the alternative is more of the same.

    – Max Lopez

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