On two arguments and seven visions

Glendale News Press
LATimes.com
Oct 30, 2004

FROM THE MARGINS
On two arguments and seven visions

PATRICK AZADIAN
Sergei Paradjanov’s “Seven Visions” accompanied Shota to the cemetery
every time.

Shota Kaladze considered himself an American, but felt a common bond
with the mysterious Soviet-Armenian artist. The two men had been born
in the Caucasian city of Tbilisi. Shota had made it his mission to read
the scenarios of the Georgian-born master, until he made some sense of
the complex literary scenarios.

On the snake-like Forest Lawn Drive, the paperback always occupied the
passenger seat. As usual, it oscillated on the leather surface until it
conquered the forces of friction and escaped into the crack in between
the chair and the door. “Seven Visions” would be resting to prepare for
an intense reading session by Shota at the park.

A moral dilemma had been on Shota’s mind. His thoughts were occupied by
a conversation he’d had with his favorite half-Georgian redhead,
Endzela.

Endzela and Shota shared a somewhat similar ethnic background. She had
been born in the Ukrainian city of Lvov to a Georgian father and a
Russian mother. Just a few days ago, the two had been engaged in a
conversation on why people do things for others. According to Endzela,
people ultimately did things for themselves, and there was no room for
altruism.

Endzela was passionate about her point of view: “I cannot believe some
of the things I used to do for my ex-boyfriend. I used to comply
without question. You know me; I am not the submissive type. Now, I
realize I did all those things for myself. Doing things for him made me
happy.”

Shota’s response was muted: “That’s discomforting.”

Endzela continued: “But it’s true. Let’s say, I am sick and call a
friend for help. Either he will come and help, and in the process
strengthen our friendship, or he doesn’t want to come, but since he
needs me as a friend, he will show up. Either way, he’ll be doing it
out of self interest.”

Shota could not put his finger on what was wrong with the argument:
“But there may be a third derivative. Let’s say, your friend cares for
you deeply, and you call him for help.”

“Da.” Endzela responded in Russian.

“And before he has time to process the information, and determine what
is in his interest, he drops everything and comes to you.”

Endzela had a response ready: “That sounds like love and I don’t
believe in it. If couples are lucky, love evolves into ‘like and
friendship’ and if not, they end up with ‘hate and resentment.’ Yours
is a special case … ”

Shota continued: “I see some holes in your theory. Speaking of love,
you know of Paradjanov?”

“Of course.”

“He had a much more optimistic view on love. I think he wrote:

‘I can compare you to satin,

But in time it wears out.

I could compare you to a flower,

But it withers in an hour.

I could compare you to a doe,

But then everyone would know.

My words take wings like a dove,

What can I say o my love.’ ”

Endzela was rarely impressed: “He must’ve written that in the onset of
a relationship. What most people call ‘love,’ I call infatuation.”

“Coming back to my ‘derivative,’ when you care for someone, selves can
be so intertwined that you don’t give yourself time to figure out why
you’re doing certain things. The border between your own self interest
and the other person’s interests can become blurry. Do you know what
your name means in Georgian?”

“Yes ‘Snow drop.’ I was a very pale but pretty child.”

“And modesty is not one of your virtues, is it?”

“Sincerity is. Modesty is often a fake virtue.”

“It’s a pretty name; it goes with the face.”

Shota pulled into the parking lot at the cemetery to review the choice
of flowers. He rotated through the Snapdragon colors at each visit. He
had already gone through white, red, orange, pink and yellow. It was
the turn of lavender to rest its feathery weight on Mr. Kaladze. Shota
eventually parked at curbside and began walking to his destination in a
pattern of half-squares. He tried to avoid stepping over the
gravestones. Armenian surnames had always caught his eyes during this
short walk to chat with his father. He had always been fascinated with
Georgia’s southern neighbors. He was glad Mr. Kaladze was among old
friends.

Shota threw down his blue towel, knelt down and began his report to his
father: “I am doing well … ”

His short briefing was followed by a reading from Paradjanov and
concluded in a verse: “The poet is dead, but his muse lives on …”

On his way back home, Shota’s thoughts snapped back to the half-Russian
redhead. Why had he come to the cemetery? For whom? For whose benefit?
He was only sure of one thing: He simply wanted to be there. He dialed
Endzela: “Endzela?”

“Yes.”

“It’s Shota.”

“Yes, I know.”

“Can I get you to have coffee with me?”

“Yes, but come here. I’ll make coffee. I’ve had a little accident, I
can’t leave the house.”

“I’ll be there in a few; what happened…”

– PATRICK AZADIAN lives and works in Glendale. He is an identity and
branding consultant for the retail industry. Reach him at
[email protected]