What does Kushad mean in Farsi happy?


Weak dialogue, overlong pointless shots and willfully unintelligible allusions are the main failures of A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. Nevertheless, when it avoids such idiosyncrasies, the beautiful images and soundtrack aptly set the stage for a simple, yet challenging story, which has not been appreciated in most reviews. Besides this aesthetic achievement, it also forges some novel concepts that will probably be reused in the future.

April 18, 2015


A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is, in various ways, an annoying movie. Not as much as its promotion (“first Iranian vampire Western ever made”), led by director Ana Lily Amirpour — or rather her media persona — who impersonates the age of social-media-driven image cultivation (including obligatory inane tweets1) to the edge of vulgarity, but annoying nonetheless.

Having watched the movie with a native speaker of Farsi, and reading similar comments, it appears that the characters have a strong accent and an unnatural, forced way of talking, which might explain the aridity of the dialogue. I am aware that this might have been intentional — maybe even a self-ironical take on the emigrated Iranian community’s quest for authenticity. Even so, it fails, merely resulting in irritation for native speakers and being completely lost on the non-Farsi-speaking audience, for which the movie was really made.

Besides this, A Girl Walks Home Alone becomes silly when it tries to outsmart its viewers, which happens on numerous occasions. The TV spots during the first half hour, the pictures of an ominous leader or Farsi graffiti on the walls behind at a message, a concept, which the movie is too pretentious (or too lazy) to reveal to the target audience. This might well be part of intentionally deriding an overly intellectual audience, but it falls flat by leading nowhere. Being more brilliant than the audience is a safe, but cheap trick. Engaging with it — if possible in a meaningful way — is much more difficult; it should nonetheless be the goal of any artistic endeavor.

The length of certain scenes is another issue. A movie cannot, even in principle, capture the chronology of human interactions realistically. Instead, time has to be compressed, the pace of the action increased, while preserving some illusion of realism. Amirpour opts for very little compression, very long scenes, but without trading the tediousness for even a little realism. The last scene, for instance, is pointlessly slow and could well be cut down to half its length.

However, these inadequacies do not make A Girl Walks Home Alone a worthless movie. Quite the contrary: they point to a sincere artistic ambition. And luckily, directors need not be particularly thoughtful or likeable in their self-display to create valuable movies. I will start by identifying aspects where Amirpour did actually succeed artistically, and then try to point out how the movie can be useful beyond the aesthetic context.

Aesthetic value

The image composition, lighting and texture are very good, not only through their graphic beauty, but because they are successful in conveying a detached, neutral mood (aided by the very aptly devised soundtrack), curiously contrasting with the disgust that they should elicit. I am not certain that Amirpour’s intention was to convey this atmosphere, but in any case it is convincing and immersive.

In some cases, when the irony successfully surfaces, the movie becomes genuinely funny. The pimp, for instance, is a deliciously grotesque conglomerate of stereotypes about movie villains, updated to reflect contemporary fashion trends (in particular the obsession with tattoos).

The story has been much criticized for being trivial or even non-existent2When it is really the movie’s most valuable element. One should first note that it succeeds in not being a trite “feminist” story about an emancipated vampiress avenging oppressed Iranian women — it is not at all obvious that the girl specifically targets (misogynous) men, or even that she has any desire for vengeance.

More importantly, the girl’s character is at best, morally neutral, at worst, plainly base. A Girl Walks Home Alone does not show two lovers struggling against a desolate, rotten town but rather two rotten lovers, participating in the constitution of a desolate, rotten town. Arash starts off as a fairly likeable James-Dean-wannabe and ends up as a drug dealer who sends his addicted father out on the street. The girl, who appears and kills almost exclusively in connection with drugs (one might want to think of her as the drug’s personification) seems to surreptitiously perverted Arash, who eventually gives up his father for his own comfort.

Nonetheless, Arash and the girl are the only characters who display some sort of affection for something besides money or drugs. The viewer is henceforth drawn into a dilemma. Should she identify herself with them, while accepting their moral ambiguity or rather resist this longing (which, given the beauty of the shots and the well conveyed innocence of both characters, turns out to be very difficult), choosing to condemn the inhabitants of " Bad city ”without exception?

Instrumental value

In addition to the intrinsic, aesthetic value, the movie is also “instrumentally valuable”, because it forges concepts, which can be used in everyday language, philosophy and even science3.

A Girl Walks Home Alone forms many such concepts: first and foremost, the skateboarding adolescent hipster vampires, both fragile and godlike, which can and will be referenced in the future. It captures and transforms the contemporary iconic imagery to create a new, original and momentous symbol. While this is not in itself an aesthetic achievement, it could still prove to be a convenient unit for other works to build upon. To a lesser extent, this is also the case for Arash and the pimp.

The movie might also participate in remodeling the perception of Iranian culture in the “Western” world and in particular in the United States. While very obviously not authentically depicting Iran (besides just as obviously not having been shot there), it does convey the culture and references of the Iranian diaspora in the US, including the importance given to speaking Farsi. I have already contended that using Farsi is an aesthetic mistake, leading to unnatural dialogue and a confused message; on the other hand, the awkwardness might prove helpful in understanding the tensions that the emigrated Persian community faces4.

  1. I cannot refrain from citing “what i’m really like on the inside is bones and blood and meat and organs and slime”, although I definitely should not. ↩
  2. Cf., for example, this review. ↩
  3. One, if not the best, example is the “Quantum Zeno effect”, where a philosophical concept illustrates a physical effect. ↩
  4. Which in turn could be useful to understand Iran itself, not only because of the similarities but even more so through the dissimilarities with Persian culture. ↩

    In order to produce beautiful things and to educate the audience artistically, art necessarily makes use of Concept formation. Regardless of the aesthetic value of these terms, they can also be used in other areas (such as philosophy). This requires a instrumental value of art that can also be attributed to unsuccessful works.

    May 30, 2014

    In this article I want to address an aspect of art whose significance I only recently became aware of: art forms - as well as philosophy or science - Terms. I would like to argue that the artistic form of concept formation is not a contingent by-product of art, but is one of its defining characteristics, which also has an instrumental value beyond art.


    In this context, the term “term” is to be understood in a broad and fuzzy sense and is synonymous with linguistic pattern be used. Normal language patterns are words, phrases, sentences, etc .; In the language of images it can be certain graphic patterns; in mathematical language, for example, sets of functions, vector spaces, or measures. For every language, concepts of a higher order can be set - as patterns of patterns of language - which are concepts of a Metalanguage are. By recursion of this procedure, terms of arbitrarily high order arise.

    The example of mathematics is perhaps the easiest way to illustrate the process of creating and changing terms. Mathematical proofs combine existing terms in a new pattern, creating new or modifying existing terms (the same applies to mathematical guesswork). The proof of the Pythagorean Theorem changes the term “right triangle” - it now includes the ratio of its sides, and thus there is also an alternative method (than that of angle measurement) to check whether a triangle is right angled or not.

    Concept formation in art

    The construction and modification of concepts is obviously an essential part of philosophical and scientific practice - the success of the latter is measured by whether a fruitful one1 Modification of the conceptual structure of a language was achieved. In mathematics it is a matter of generating new conjectures, theorems, etc., in physics, through theory or experiment, to clarify the meaning of terms (mass, probability, etc.) or to reinvent them (entropy, entanglement, etc.) that are suitable for empirical predictions can prove useful.

    In my opinion, working on concepts is also an essential artistic activity. The dual function of art - producing and teaching the beautiful - I presented in an earlier article. How Realizing these two goals was left open because the artistic activity is characterized by a basically infinite methodological variety. But there is an invariant for both the creative and the critical element of art (regardless of whether it is literature, visual art, music or sculpture): the method of creating patterns and concepts.

    The creative element of art is directly involved in the formation of aesthetic terms: the ideas of proportion, melody, harmony, etc. are constantly being eroded and newly formed by the works of art.3 The music of the 20th century is a good example of profound and often successful changes of this kind, which largely originated from jazz and the accompanying reform of the concept of rhythm. The critical aspect of art can also achieve its goal if - here it is metaesthetic terms - creates and sharpens. This is the only way to give the addressees a new view of the beautiful in general and the work of art in particular.

    Both goals of art are realized through the instrument of concept formation.

    An instrumental value

    So art creates patterns - concepts that give you more intrinsic, more aesthetic There is inherent value. The concepts created by art can also be useful outside of aesthetics if they are misused and transferred to other areas, so to speak translated become. Two examples should help you understand this aspect.

    European culture is based, to a not insignificant extent, on ancient and medieval myths, the importance of which goes far beyond the artistic framework (i.e. references made in painting, music, sculpture, theater, etc.). A good example of this is the myth of Sisyphus,4 who (among other things) provided a conceptual clue for Camus' philosophy of the absurd.5 The conceptual preparatory work of the myth allowed Camus to operate with terms that were already very precisely differentiated and understandable to his readership, which only had to be sharpened a little. The influence may go through this Simplification of the placement addition: It is quite possible that the myth has a direct impact on the content von Camus ’philosophy and thus has had an impact far beyond the aesthetic sphere and into the modern era.

    Another example of the instrumental value of artistic concept formation is Fritz Lang's film Metropolis.6 Here, too, the influence goes far beyond art7 out: Metropolis has the idea of ​​the machine (and in a broader sense of the city itself) as a juggernaut8, to whom workers are sacrificed, so strongly influenced that in the German-speaking area "Moloch" almost exclusively refers to inhuman megalopoly.9 Anyone who would like to claim that a city is too big, too dirty, too dangerous can use this term without having to make the conceptual connection between these different aspects and to argue. This also makes it clear how the concept formation unites purely instrumental Can represent the value of art that is independent of the aesthetic aspect - that of the concept of, among other things Metropolis is not necessarily due to the actual artistic value of the film.

    The terms processed by art can also be taken up outside of art. This process results in an instrumental value for a work of art, which is generally independent of the artistic value. Also bad or unsuccessful art (i.e. a esthetic failed concept formation) can prove valuable in this sense.

    The Wolf of Wall Street can be understood as a confrontation with the absurdity of the world. Jordan Belfort embodies Camus ’ideal of the absurd hero, because no hope is sought against the absurdity of the world and instead rebelled against the necessity of searching for meaning. Just as Sisyphus ’is filled with the senseless struggle against the mountain, Belfort is filled with the senseless struggle for the money. But this absurd element is not perfect in Belfort. His attachment to his company and his employees still gives him hope. The only value he recognizes is the sacrifice right kind of work; thereby he tries to bring meaning into the world after all. Ultimately, the audience despises Belfort not because of his egoistic excesses, but because of the contradiction between apparently absurd behavior and the actual honest work ethic.

    February 7, 2014

    I would like some of the philosophical questions that im Wolf of Wall Street - fortunately quite unobtrusively - to be raised, treated and in doing so to Camus ’ Myth of Sisyphus1 orientate. So less the aesthetic than the philosophical point of view will be adopted.

    Camus, the wolf and the absurd

    The absurd greed of the main characters of the Wolf of Wall Street, especially that of Jordan Belfort, seems at first glance to be the main theme of the film. The pathologically ridiculous behavior of Belfort is also conveyed very successfully by Martin Scorcese and Leonardo DiCaprio - the combination of realism, satire and skilful slapstick used for this is, in my opinion, a prime example of successful popular comedy. But it does not stop at the amusing mockery of the drug addict, intellectually and emotionally neglected milieu of the stock traders.

    The Absurd is, I think, an essential category around the Wolf of Wall Street to understand. For Camus, who strongly coined the term, confronting the absurd is the only relevant philosophical problem: How can a person deal with a strange, intangible world, with the meaninglessness of life? More precisely: How can he evade the initially imposing solution - suicide?

    Camus answers the question as follows. Instead of trying to yourself against To fight back the absurd instead of searching for hope and meaning, which ultimately only the absurd ignored, the only way out for those who take the absurd seriously is the revolt, the revolt against the need for any meaning at all. For Camus, in addition to Don Juan (here, too, a parallel to Belfort would be appropriate) in particular Sisyphus, who is damned,2 Continuously rolling a stone up a mountain, paradigmatic for this defiant, life-affirming rebellion that refuses to take suicide as the only way out. Ultimately, even happiness can only come from such a pointless struggle:

    “The fight against summits can fill a human heart. We have to imagine Sisyphus as a happy person. "1

    Belfort also seems to be such a Sisyphus. He is looking for no hope, no meaning in life. His only job is to fight, to live - even if he eats himself up in the process. That is what is deeply human, what is sympathetic about Belfort, which DiCaprio conveys subliminally. We understand Jordan Belfort, we understand him when he understands the limits imposed on him by the world, even the ethical and "dianoetic virtues" (such as reason, wisdom)3negatedbecause by doing this he also affirms life. Jordan Belfort would never kill himself, but he knows that he is sentenced to death - here, too, a quote from Camus is appropriate:

    "The opposite of suicide is the one sentenced to death."1

    This interpretation not only explains the audience's relatively strong identification with the - actually repulsive - main character, but also resolves the apparent paradox between hedonism and greed for money. Why should Belfort strive for more and more money, choose dangerous, sometimes ridiculous methods (which ultimately become his undoing) in order to actually achieve unnecessary profits for him when he portrays himself as a hedonistic egoist? The answer is Notthat Belfort first a connoisseur who “succumbed” to greed, drug and sex addiction. He actually was never interested in his own physical and psychological well-being, but always only in crossing boundaries, and may still be (like Camus ’Sisyphus) in a certain way happy.

    The last worth of the wolf: work

    In the course of the film, however, another aspect emerges that has to be considered in the context of the absurd and which ultimately moves Jordan Belfort (like his cronies) away from Camus’s ideal of the absurd hero. In what is, in my opinion, the most succinct scene of the film, Belfort faces his employees, declares his resignation, but ultimately decides (despite all rationality) to continue his company. So far the plot is still irrational revolt in the sense of Camus' to understand.

    Belfort's actual mainspring is actually a different one. His loyalty is only to his work and his employees. The brilliantly ridiculous speeches he gives to motivate them (for example, before Steve Madden went public) honest. He believes in belonging to a select group that is distinguished by extraordinary abilities, but also by a specific form of Work ethic excels. The employees love him and he loves them -4 not because they celebrate excesses together, but because they do work together.

    At first it seems as if work in the milieu shown is only the investment broker means for the purpose (for power, luxury, sexual satisfaction, etc.), but appearances are deceptive. The scene in which an employee cleans his fishbowl is an example of this. It turns out that productivity is completely indifferent. Even the mere intention not to give in to the work completely is one sinwhich results in a shameful exclusion from the circle of the sublime.

    Belfort still has hope in a twisted, if you will, “aristocratic” work ethic. He is able to convey this hope to others as well. The last few seconds of the film show how Belfort captivates an entire hall in a motivational seminar. This makes it clear that the absurd, the rebellious, determine Belfort's actions only secondarily; Basically he is characterized rather by a messianic element with which he gives himself and his followers hope - the hope of finding redemption from absurdity through a certain form of work. Work as the only way outAs a last resort to repress the absurd and to attain dignity, that is the actual message of Jordan Belfort:

    Belfort is a lamb posing as a wolf.

    Curiously, it is also this admiration for the ideal of work that the viewers see as actually appears tasteless and ultimately perishes her sympathy for Belfort. We despise him not because of his greed for money, not because of his drug addiction, not because of his egoism, not even because of his intellectual limitations, but because of the contradiction between them The appearance of the absurd herothat Belfort wants to give himself and his vulgar, ridiculously sincere zeal for work:

    art obey no rules, but still must rules know and can follow. In this regard, a parallel can be drawn to the craft: Although the objectives of craft and art (as ideal types) are different, both fall back on general and beyond individual craftsmanship. The relationship between craft and art continues - every real (non-idealized) artistic activity is a mixture of both ideal types.

    January 30, 2014


    What means can and should art use to achieve its goals - teaching art and creating art? At first it seems as if any restriction of artistic freedom would also narrow the space of aesthetic possibilities, and that for this reason it would have to be rejected.

    But precisely in the fact that the essence of art (somewhat similar to science) unites teaching and “research”, a weighty limitation of the absolute ideal of artistic freedom is hidden. This manifests itself in the fact that the creative, the revolutionary in art can only be based on an existing framework. So that it is something New there, it must be on an established one Old one relate and differentiate from it.1 It is no coincidence that there are different genres, currents, schools, etc.; rather, it is a constitutive element of art.

    This trivial realization has the consequence that the means that art can use, always through regulate be restricted. These rules are not absolutely (as they would be in the scientific field, for example), because in principle they can all be transgressed and changed. However, such rule breaking itself follows rules second order: It has to happen consciously, so at least sets the Knowledge of the rules (first order) ahead. In addition, it must be based on an artistic-aesthetic intention, which leads to rule violations exception stay. Arbitrariness or clumsiness are not artistic virtues.

    Craftsmanship and craftsmanship

    Rules too know and also obey to be able to are therefore prerequisites for creating art. So there is such a thing as Craftsmanship. This term suggests a closer look at the relationship between art and craft.

    As “craft” I would like to describe the activity that produces individually manufactured goods and services. Go with it Special knowledge and skills hand in hand, both those that are constitutive for the entire craft as well as those that go beyond that and can only be assigned to a single craftsman.2

    In contrast to art, craft aims primary on realizing externally given goals, the self-determined aesthetic aspect can develop, but only secondarily, within the framework of the respective specification.

    Although their goals are different, the artistic and the manual are so similar Act - both are related forms of the Rule (not) follow: In both cases there are rules, the one knowing and potentially following them Basic stock of craftsmanship, but at the same time also the opportunity to contribute individual craftsmanship and to further develop the art or craft.

    So one could summarize:

    "Handicraft becomes art when it sets itself aesthetic purposes."

    Of course, as I have tried to conceptualize “art” and “handicraft”, they are merely Ideal types3 - neither of the two "exists" in its pure form. Every artistic activity is unique and directed more or less for external, non-aesthetic purposes. Nevertheless, a rough classification can be tried: drama or architecture are for example as an art genre closer to handicraft than painting and writing,4 which doesn't mean that one certain Writer no more skilled than one certain Actress can work.

    Artistic activities are thus craftsmanship in two ways - on the one hand because the ideal type of art shares the artistry as a basis with the ideal type of craft, on the other hand because there are only hybrids between these two real types in reality. Art gradually changes into handicrafts (i.e. handicrafts with artistic aspirations).

    How does art deal with the beautiful? you creates Beautiful and at the same time teaches them to contemplate the beautiful; Pseudo art refuses to accept this claim, bad art only fails.

    December 30, 2013

    Two goals of art

    How does art “affect” the beautiful? Its goal is to create beautiful things, but also to bring it closer to the audience, one aesthetic education granted.

    The latter element is also Part of arthistory, -criticism, -theory. This is why good criticism is so closely related to art - it brings you closer to the work of art and leads to the further development of the aesthetic sense.1 The work of art should (ideally) as such Take on an educational function - without additional comment.

    Intention and pseudo art

    There are (e.g. in nature) things that can be described as "accidental works of art", but never "accidental art". The intention Creating and conveying beautiful things is a necessary part of art.

    The artist is obliged to bring the beautiful and the audience into contact with each other. If this self-image is missing, if the artist maintains this claim, extraordinary creative talent can no longer make him an artist. Contempt for the beautiful and cynicism for the viewer are the hallmarks of Pseudo art.

    The Vulgarwhich pretends what is pleasant and desirable as beautiful is an example of pseudo art. It denies the universal claim to beauty and deliberately refrains from educating the audience - perhaps on the pretext that it is “too stupid” for such an education.

    Bad art

    Bad art, on the other hand, has arisen from an artistic intention, but does not live up to its claims. Aside from a lack of technical skill or immature aesthetic feeling, there are two types of failed works of art.

    Imitations (Kitsch) depict beautiful things, but teach nothing new, are in the bare, almost arrested in mechanical reproduction that misses the point. The teaching and further development of the beautiful fails.

    Comments (Avant-garde) aim at novelty, drive at the audience: “Look!” - but fail to convey this novelty through the work of art - they have no answer to the question “Why should I look?”. The aesthetic aspect of art lags behind the critical-theoretical.

    How can one argue about art?

    Now it remains to be clarified how bad art - or even pseudocust - can be distinguished from successful art. A complete, final Judgment on this is in principle not possible because beauty - in contrast to truth - can never be fully and conclusively understood rationally. Because even a fully elaborated aesthetic always leaves room for interpretation as to how a certain work of art should be classified in its set of rules.

    Nevertheless, art can (and should!) Be argued within these limits on the basis of the characteristics that have just been developed. Once the possibilities and limitations of the art discourse become clear, a fruitful language of art criticism can develop.2

    It can for example tries be able to convince someone that a certain art movement only mocks the audience and is therefore actually not art; or you can to attemptto deny the originality of a work of art by showing similarities with previous works. Such an argument will of course not always lead to an agreement. But at least it becomes clear Where the interpretations separate, which in itself represents a considerable gain in knowledge.

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