This month we couldn’t find anyone who wanted to do our semi-regular Proust Questionnaire, so we looked around the office and pointed to the only candidate unable to say no and it is our very own Carter Witt, Director of Carter Witt Media which publishes this mag.
Carter, a native of Florida, has been in Japan since 1988 so he is a for-real lifer. He started the ALIEN along with Neil Garscadden in 1990 which then became Japanzine and morphed into what is now NAGMAG.
Carter is the father of two boys 10 and 13, and enjoys life as a taxi driver taking them around town to various functions when not working. Here are his answers.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A book, a pool and a beach. Also seeing Donald Trump in an orange jumpsuit.
What is your greatest fear?
Being forced to eat pineapple on a pizza.
What historical figure do you most identify with?
Definitely Henry David Thoreau who wrote Walden. I aspire one day to live a simple life in nature, either in a cabin on a lake or on an isolated beach.
Which living person do you most admire?
My best friend Brad, we’ve been best buddies since we went to camp together at age 9 or so and were college roommates. He has managed to raise three remarkable kids and works a very demanding job as a nurse. He is a remarkably talented and kind person. Also he still rides bikes which I have stopped doing.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I’m a bit self conscious and pretty much a loner. I’m not shy when I have something to say but some people see me as standoffish and aloof which I guess would be a natural reaction. Basically I have to put a lot of energy into being with other people.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Time. I use lots of it often accomplishing little.
On what occasion do you lie?
I never lie.
What is your favorite journey?
A walk on a beach alone, either early in the morning or late at night. The sounds and smell of the ocean remind me of my youth when I played all day in the ocean in front of my parent’s place at the beach in Florida.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Pride. I enjoy accomplishments but I do not care for those who boast or display them in order to attract attention. Of course I have pride but it is mostly directed at my children who are not perfect but to me remain my greatest joy.
Which living person do you most despise?
I don’t believe in despising people. Like Nancy Pelosi recently said about Trump, she wasn’t taught to hate. She was taught to pray for those whom she disagrees with. I do despise of course, but it tends to be things – like pineapple on pizza.
Who is your real life hero?
Without a doubt it would be my friend and mentor Father Bernie Dooly. He opened up the possibility of exploring the world and helped set me off on some of the greatest adventures of my life, like a bike trip through Europe and a trip to India. He taught me the value of forgiveness and the beauty of God’s grace. His death caused me immense sorrow. I miss him greatly.
Who is your greatest hero in fiction?
Oh that’s easy. The Count of Monte Cristo. I must have read that book 10 times at least as a kid. He encompasses some of my greatest aspirations: hope, justice, mercy, forgiveness. But honestly I must admit to enjoying his extraction of vengeance the most. As a kid in Catholic school it was a secret aspiration which I dreamed of but never attained. Father Roger! One day!
What is your greatest regret?
I wish I had studied business in university. It turns out that studying British history is not applicable to my current work.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Oh definitely the ability to play an instrument. So many of my friends are musicians. I was always the guy who made flyers for friend’s bands and tagged along to gigs.
What is your favorite color?
Forest Green. It reminds me of nature and trees which are my favorite plant. I love trees. I am fortunate that our house is surrounded by them. Loads of birds!
What is your most treasured possession?
I have two handmade rocking chairs that are now almost 100 years old. They were left to me by my aunt and friend for life Cynthia. Her father made them in the 1920’s. I’ve spent my life rocking in them since I was a tyke. Now my kids also use them.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Abuse. The abuse of children or animals and those who abuse them. I cannot fathom anything more miserable.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I’m a dork.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Distinction. Knowing who they are and where they are going. Being who they are and being comfortable in their own skin.
What is the quality you most admire in a woman?
Strength of character and the ability to rise above adversity. Some women truly amaze me with what they can accomplish in adverse circumstances.
What do you most value in your friends?
Discretion and loyalty. Two highly honorable qualities.
How would you like to die?
I’m not liking this question. But I would like to be buried with my family who are all together at our family plot. I miss them all deeply and it would give me comfort to know that is where I will end up.
What is your greatest hope?
That someday people will rise up and face the fact that pineapple does not belong on pizza. Wake up people!