Thursday, January 04, 2007

New Year's Eve dinner with Alain de Botton

I missed Alain de Botton's blog post at the Guardian last week. It opens:

In my ideal New Year's Eve dinner, everyone would agree to give up the masks of ordinary life. The whole point of the evening would be to create an atmosphere of exceptional intimacy, where everyone could stop trying to seem impressive and instead reveal themselves to be the flawed, anxious, silly, profound, doubting creatures we all are underneath. Rather than boasting about achievements, people would be encouraged to reveal their fears and regrets.

Men are generally very boring companions, because it takes them so long to stop trying to appear impressive. So the men I'd choose for my dinner party would be people who, in their writings, have given evidence of baring their souls. I'd pick Proust, who was brave enough to say how much he wanted his Mummy to kiss him when he was a little boy (see volume 1, In Search of Lost Time). I'd go for Stendhal, who in his book On Love, gave a frank account of how often he cried. And I'd invite Montaigne, who told us a lot about his occasional bouts of impotence.

That's all interesting enough. But I'd bet no one could correctly pick the three female counterparts that fill out de Botton's fantasy New Years Eve dinner. Make your guesses, then click here to see how far off you were.

Elsewhere on the blog: In October, Alain de Botton, the best-selling author of The Art of Travel and How Proust Can Change Your Life, came up with a list of books for The Week magazine. Read more about the list here.

--Marshal Zeringue