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LINGVISTOV Interview: Asia

Watch LINGVISTOV Interview with one of the founders of our project Asia who talks about writing, freedom, moving to the USA, patriotism and living forever.

L: Another spontaneous interview because I don't have any questions. It always reminds me of this Craig Ferguson show where he tears up the paper with questions and starts talking about some nonsense.

A: I am mostly attracted to psychological analysis of people's relationship. Something that moves people to do certain things, to behave in a certain way. So I guess that's why I am attracted to all this psychological...
L: Well, it's no wonder!
A: I think this is the most attractive part for me in every book. That's why I am very much fascinated with one-character stories, when there's just one central character. And throughout the whole book you see how this character develops, what motivates him or her and what triggers this character to do certain things. And I'd love to write in the same way.

L: Why are people mean?
A: I think that in most cases people don't really treat themselves as mean people, as bad people. And they always have an explanation. And the truth is always on their side. As for very bad cases I think it's some kind of psychological disorder. They probably don't see the difference between evil and good. I don't know. But that's very interesting.
L: You know, about good and evil, "The Lord of the Flies", if you remember...
A: Of course I do. I even have this one story about "The Lord of the Flies". When we lived in the United States with my friend Ellina, we were working as... like people who take care of these villas and just make sure that they are clean and ready for visitors.
L: Is that where they called you...
A: Toilet paper girl? Yes, exactly. One day we entered this villa, one of the villas. And there was a bookshelf with different books. And there was this "Lord of the Flies" book. And Ellina was like "Wow, I always wanted to read this book!" So she grabbed it. She just wanted to borrow this book. She just wanted to read it and then put it back. We thought those books were the owners' books. And the same evening the visitors call and say that one book disappeared and that was their own book and that was "The Lord of the Flies". We were so scared. And we were afraid to bring it back because that would be certainly... that would be too obvious who took the book. Ellina still has this book. And every time I remind her of "The Lord of the Flies" she's like "Don't remind me of that!" I call her a thief. And she's like "I'm not a thief! I just wanted to borrow it!"

 A: So if an individual wants to harm another individual then he's certainly having some psychological problems. And I don't believe that it's inborn. Unless we're talking about some mentally ill people. If not, I think that it's something that we acquire throughout our childhood, maybe parents' models, something that surrounds us when we are little.

 A: I think that there is a difference between a temperament and character. I think temperament is something you're born with and you can't change it. But you can certainly change your character. Maybe not you, maybe your parents, your surroundings. I think it's a combination of these two parts.
L: Because sometimes people are frustrated. Like their parents... they don't want to be like their parents.
A: Just don't be like your parents.
L: Do you think that it is possible?
A: I am sure that it is possible. I believe that you can't change your essence, the one that you are born with. But you certainly can change a lot of things in yourself. As long as you are willing to, as long as you have this necessary motivation, the need to change yourself, then of course. 

A: I've been working hard to learn how to write and I never concentrate on the events. The events are just what triggers my inner reflections, self-analysis, things like that. So basically in my diaries you won't find any events. This is one thing I've learnt. And the second thing is actually it's quite hard to learn to name things by their names. Because very often when you're writing something you are subconsciously expecting this to be sooner or later read. And that's why you're trying to find better words, to create a better picture of yourself. This is what I've been working hard to get rid of. So right now I think that I have accomplished my goal. I can write what I really feel whether it's good or bad. So sometimes you can find a lot of negative aspects of myself in diaries, but I am kind of proud of it.
L: Do you reread what you write in your diaries?
A: Yeah, I do.
L: Does it help maybe?
A: It helps me to analyse my feelings, my emotions. It's not that I am a very voracious reader of my own diaries but I do. And very often I just get a bit surprised or feel awkward. Like - How could I be attracted by this guy?! Oh my God! This was so stupid of me! But in most cases I just see that I'd been changing, hopefully in a better way than I used to be.
L: So the whole point of a diary is to be honest.
A: To be honest, to learn to be honest because once you are honest with yourself you learn to be honest with others, how to accept other people's honesty. So I've been learning to do that. I think I'm still learning but I think I have succeeded.

A: I did. I finished the art school. I have eleven years...
L: Eleven years!
A: Eleven years, yeah.
L: Did it give you anything?
A: Well, it gave me the freedom of expressing myself, the freedom of being who I really am. I think this is the best contribution of every art school - to make a kid be himself or herself. Because in our society there are so many limits, so much pressure, and people are afraid to be who they are. And I believe that maybe not to 100% but maybe 80%, 90% I am who I really am. 

A: Well, I guess people of course, certain people I encountered in my life have influenced me, have changed me a lot. And America, my experience of living in the United States - that was probably like an army for me. When you are young, you have no obligations, you have no responsibilities and you are free to do what you want to do. And if you are placed into the environment where it's actually possible, your way of thinking changes a lot. That is why when I came back to Russia from the United States, for me it was very natural to try to find my own path and to follow my own star. That's what I've been doing for the last five years: trying to figure out which way to go. Because I just felt I was comfortable doing certain things. And I wouldn't do them if I wasn't comfortable. Whereas most people you find nowadays are totally OK with it. They're like "Well, this is life; you have to do thing you don't like, just because it's life." But for me it's absolutely not OK. If I don't like certain things, if I don't like certain people, I just don't hang out with them or I don't do them. And I think this is the major influence of America. You are pretty free to do what you want to. You are free to choose your place of living, your circle of friends, your style, everything. It's up to you.
L: This feeling of freedom...
A: It's probably very much exaggerated of course. And as I recently have come to a conclusion that it's not about the country, it's about the attitude. You have to understand that you are free in any country. So this American approach is about freedom but you can fulfill it in every country: in Russia, in Mexico, in any country.
L: But why do people...
A: Because they don't know it. They think that they are not free but they are. They just have to realise it. If you don't like your job, just quit it. If you don't like your husband, just leave him. It's that easy! You are not a tree. You are not a tree, you don't have any balance at all. But people think it's not possible. Our Russian reality. They think there are so many obligations, so much balance. But it's not like that. I want to be totally free. And not dependent on money because when we are talking about freedom sooner or later you have to face this problem of financial independence. But it's not even about the amount of money you have. You can be very poor and still be free. Or you can be rich and still be very much dependent on your assets. I think that it's just the realisation that money is not about freedom. Money gives you the opportunity to free yourself. But it does not free you.

A: If you are not happy in Russia you will not be happy in America, you won't be happy in Mexico, in France. This is all about your inner self. Don't go to America! It will not make you happy! And maybe I am a bit jealous because that was my first love. I think that America is like a beautiful woman I fell in love with when I was eighteen. I am still getting over it. So when people tell me "I want to go to America"... Hell no.
L: You are not going there!
A: I am a bit offended, I am a bit hurt when people say some bad things about Russia. It's like when you scold your own child, it's not bad. But when other people tell you about your child, how bad he or she is, then you get hurt. It's like "Hey, stop, stop! Stop talking about my child like that!"
L: Do you consider yourself a patriot?
A: I'm a patriot in my own definition of this word. I think again it's just understanding that Russia has a lot of problems but still loving it.
L: You still do?
A: Yeah, of course. Yes. But emotionally I wouldn't call myself Russian. I would call international citizen. 

A: I think it's a myth. I think it's not true. The United States as a country have a lot of problems when it comes to skin colour or again sexual orientation. We used to live in Georgia. And Georgia is a very black state. And we did have a lot of problems even finding a job because we're not black. And the employers were pretty honest with us. They told us "Well, you see I don't want to have any problems with you. You see, your skin colour is not the same as mine." So they were pretty honest. So it was really hard for us to even find a job, I'm not talking about all other things. When we finally found a job we did experience a lot of discrimination in the workplace. They talk too much that they are tolerant, but people are different.

A: All right, when I was visiting the United States for the first time I was not even eighteen at that time, I lived in a hosting family with four children. And there was this woman, her name was Rebecca. A fantastic mother, wife, and person. I was just pretty astonished when one day I saw her walking out of the house in white socks not wearing any shoes. Because she needed to... I think it was going to start raining and she needed to take the bicycle inside. And she walked like fifty metres on the pavement in white socks. And when she came inside her socks were still white. And that was an epiphany for me. Because as I told you in my house in my apartment where I live if you make like five steps wearing white socks, your socks will not be white. They will be like very dirty. But she was outside wearing white socks and they remained white. So for me that was not even about the socks of course. It's a kind of a philosophical aspect that makes this different.

L: Do you want to do something radical when you're older?
A: Maybe a couple more tattoos. 
L: Oh, yeah, tell us about your tattoos.
A: I only have two. This is a tiger.
L: Why a tiger?
A: I was born according to this Chinese calendar in the year of the tiger.
L: I was born in the year of a rabbit.
A: Rabbit and a cat. So you can do a cat.
L: It's so lame to have a tattoo of a cat.
A: Lenient? Just a big lazy cat. You could tattoo your August.
L: Life commitment to my August.
A: I don't know. I just felt that the tiger is the perfect representation of the freedom. And this tattoo... You want me to show it? Actually it means "Why belong?" "Why belong" means you don't have to belong anywhere or to anyone. You belong to yourself. You're not a thing. You're not anybody's belonging. 

A: Well, I'm very self-critical. And I would eliminate a lot of character traits in myself. I would like to get rid of laziness. I think that's the worst... is it a character trait actually? Or is it a lifestyle? Other than that I think I'm a good person, you know. At least I'm not bad. At least I don't do any harm. Maybe I don't do much good but I don't do any harm. That makes me happy.

A: You see I much of a difference between a man and a woman. In your interview you said they are from different planets. I don't agree with this. I think that people are people regardless of their gender. And I can get attracted both to men and to women. And when we talk about friendship, as long as you have fun together that may last for many-many years. But I still think that our best friends we made when we were students because that when we had a lot of free time to hang out, to experiment with different substances, and to see each other mask off. Because you know people here in this world wear a lot of masks. And they are shy or afraid to be seen without these masks. And when you are young, then you are not afraid of it. That's why as you grow older, it's more difficult to make friends. I hope you understand my point. That's why I see yourself as an exception in my life because we did not study together, we did not experience all those crazy things.

L: Are you afraid of growing old?
A: Oh, yes. This is my biggest fear. I want to remain forever young. Very often I just don't fit in because I am that young emotionally and spiritually. When I realise that I am twenty-seven years old, I start shivering. That's not possible. I am still twenty-three. And maybe that is my problem: I am so not ready to be an adult, to have all of these responsibilities and obligations. I can't imagine myself older than thirty. 

A: If you want to remain who you are, you can do it. Being married, having children you can still travel, you can still do art, you can still fulfill yourself. But if you do not have enough will or motivation to stick to your principles, then of course marriage will be an obstacle, a problem. But I am not that kind of a person. If I start this, that is going to be another way to free myself. I don't want to be in a cage. I think a family is not a cage. It's like a possibility to express yourself in another areas, to open up something new in yourself, but by no means to close yourself in a closet, a cupboard.

L: Are you scared of death?
A: Yeah, I am. I'd like to live forever, just like Michael Jackson said.