1. What is beauty? Does beauty exist? Elaborate and explain your position.
I would define "beauty" as something extremely aesthetically pleasing, whether in terms of sight, sound, touch, taste, or smell. At its most ideal, beauty is so different from someone's usual experience that it changes the observer in some deep way.
Obviously, I feel that beauty exists. But I also feel that there is truth to the cliche that beauty is in the eye of the beholder--by the definition I used above, it is just as likely for someone to find, say, Precious Moments beautiful as it is for someone to find Joel-Peter Witkin's photographs beautiful. And it strikes me that one of the integral parts of beauty is that it isn't objective or impersonal.
Is this solipsistic, this line of thinking? Perhaps. But maybe it's not so bad if you work to understand why other people find beauty in what you find ugly or offensive.
2. What sort of archetype do you relate to? Why that specific one? Does this archetype possibly relate to something cultural, or is it merely an image or idea you like? (An archetype might be the "hero" archetype, the "underdog," or the "femme fatale" for instance.)
I would relate to the archetype of the Innocent Neophyte. (Examples that I can think of off the top of my head: Joseph Andrews, Rasselas, Arthur Dent, Holden Caulfield, Henry Fleming, Winston Smith, etc.) For me, the Innocent Neophyte is a character who basically stumbles through things that happen to him, and does his best to cope with wholly unexpected experiences, experiences that are so far removed from what he is either used to or has been trained (consciously or unconsciously) to deal with.
Maybe this is a simpler way to put it: This archetype gets told that the world is a certain way, and then discovers through his experiences that the world is nothing of the sort. Sometimes this character uses this experience to learn and grow and become a better person and all that afterschool special kinda thing, but the best of these archetypal characters, the ones who are most "real," are the ones who are still confused and discombobulated at the end of the story.
I just see myself in that position so often, especially days when I try to figure out what I need to do, or should do, or want to do, or any unforseen choice.
3. Describe the first house you remember living in. What did it look like? How did it make you feel? Did you have a favorite room or a special hiding place? Did it have a yard?
It was in a subdivision--Fairview Farms in Rochester Hills, Michigan (though it was still Avon Township when my family moved there; I was eighteen months old). This is the house I grew up in, and my parents still live there. Two stories, blue-grey aluminum siding, used to have a red front door until we painted it and then when I was in high school we bought a wholly new door. My room was in the northwest corner of the second floor. It had an okay front yard, but I always preferred to spend time in the back yard, which was much larger and the grass was nicer. Plus when I was younger, there was a sandbox there.
I suppose my favorite room was my room; at least, that's where I remember spending most of my free time. Though I did spend a lot of time in the basement, where I built model airplanes.
By and large, I've never been a very social person; only for the last several years have I tried to actively seek people out. I've always preferred to have a few extremely close friends, rather than many friends who I sort of know.
4. What is your favorite book? When did you first read it and how many times have you read it since? Why do you choose that as your favorite book?
Oh gosh... I've always read a lot of stuff, and I've never been able to come up with a consistent answer for this first question. Plus it's hard to tell which books are "favorites" and which ones are just passing fancies, I guess.
But if I had to guess right now: The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. I think this was my first serious foray into science fiction, or at least SF that wasn't Star Wars. First read it in the fall of 1986, which would've made me nearly 12. I think I've read it at least once every year since then; I've never kept a wholly accurate count.
This book is my favorite for the same reason that I really like all the other things I'm passionate about: Because it's so different than anything I'd read before. Also, I think it gave me my taste for sophisticated nonsense, which taste I consider to be one of my assets. (This was also around the time I started getting interested in Monty Python and various British comedy.)
...wow, that was a way for me to say "This book changed my life" without using any of those words, wasn't it? I don't know if that's a good thing or not.