If you should hate small talk as much as I happen to hate it, these questions may make a difference to your experience on a crowded aeroplane, a busy bus. At a stilted family meal. The questions make for excellent small talk with people who have no clue how to speak from the heart – or they produce an interesting silence. I wonder which is more interesting some days. If you must talk to strangers and you are not inclined one bit towards feeding them with the kind of small talk they require, ignore them or ask a few of these provocative questions. They are funny. The people. When you ask them.
Questionnaire from Max Frisch
(From his Sketchbook, 1961-1971)
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?