Given an arbitrary piece of work, defined over the n-dimensional linguistic space, this qualifies as art if and only if it explores the human condition by being incomplete and ill-defined.
The encrypted message
The theorem being enunciated, let us now elaborate more in detail on how incompleteness and ill-definition underlie each piece of art. To that end, I will resort to an artistic device, namely, a metaphor.
A piece of art is an encrypted message that comes without a key (incompleteness). In other words, it is an ensemble of signs and symbols, which appeals to one or more senses, that constitutes a motif whose rationale is at most hinted at and at any rate never revealed by the artist. The moment a piece of work has an expressed purpose, it is immediately demoted and ceases to be an object of art. Hence the notion that art is an end in itself. Yet, put it this way, one could mistake the artist for an obscure plotter hiding behind his tools or, even worse, as a charlatan who hides his lack of virtue behind unintelligible constructs. Instead, the true artist is not the one who hides his rationale, but rather the one who gives form to shapeless matter moved by the ephemeral ardor of creation, which transcends any rationale. In fact, the artist, upon returning on worldly grounds after a brief ascension to the creative dimension, simply does not possess the key to his/her own creation. Finally, the artist qualifies as such whenever he/she manages to sketch a motif composed by signs that taken singularly are intelligible to the spectator and yet as whole constitute an incomplete picture that forces the spectator to "fill in the blanks". Therefore, the keystones that support the edifice of art are provided by its interpreters rather than by the artist. It follows that each piece of art is inextricably entangled with its recipient/interpreter: the former does not exist without the latter and both the artist and the interpreter are creators in the sense that they confer form to shapeless matter at different times. The fundamental role of the spectator/recipient/interpreter brings us to the ill-defined nature of each piece of art.
Each piece of art is an ill-defined encrypted message in the sense that it can be decrypted with multiple keys that in turn lead to multiple messages. Therefore, by improperly paraphrasing Pirandello, each piece of art is one, none, and one hundred thousand, since there exists one for each interpreter (and none when there is no interpreter). Indeed, the motif of a piece of art is better described as evoking rather than saying; suggesting rather than dictating; alluding to something rather than pointing at something; provoking rather than inquiring. A real piece of art is never definitive or conclusive in nature, but rather unresolved, faceted, and even shape-shifting. Each piece of art, by tapping into the imagery of the interpreter, in the desperate attempt to reach completion, takes on the most disparate forms. This is because one's imagery is the complex product of experience and innate nature, which not only vary on an individual basis but also in time, as one slowly yet restlessly mutates over time. As the interpreter, in experiencing the piece of art, adds his/her own material to it, the piece of art can even act as the mirror of one's soul at a given time. To some extent, a piece of art resembles the vague and ambiguous prophesies given by the oracle of Delphi, which were often self-fulling because the recipient himself would be interpret them according to the whims of his own mind. It comes as no surprise that the famous maxim inscribed in the pronaos of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi ran: know thyself. This brings us to the incommensurable importance of art in each human era.
In virtue of its incomplete and ill-defined nature, each piece of art let one partake in the pleasure of creation ('filling the blanks') and in doing so one has also the chance to catch a glimpse in one's mirrored image, or in other words, to explore one's human condition. Moreover, the incompleteness makes each piece of art eternal, in the same way a love affair that has not reached closure stirs our soul endlessly. Finally, like the Aristotelian unmoved mover, a piece of art can move the hearths of different interpreters, in different ways and at different times, while being immutable over the centuries.
A short note on the language of the arts
In composing a piece of art the artist makes use of some sort language, which can appeal to one of the senses or even be synesthetic. It follows that for the interpreter to enjoy the piece of art, he/her has to be accustomed to the language of the artist. Otherwise, the interpreter will fail to enjoy it in the same way one would fail to fill in the blanks in a text written in an unknown language. This is the reason why certain art trends may appeal to people with a certain background and not others, or even why many people do not appreciate art in general. In fact, learning to appreciate art is a process that is not dissimilar from learning how to read and write.
"There he is again, in the midst of his peers trying hard to legitimize his embarrassing mediocrities. There is nothing wrong about being mediocre. After all, we are all mediocre in one or two departments of life. Yet mediocrity is no virtue, and going to great lengths in a desperate attempt to justify it, to the point of becoming an advocate of it, is simply pathetic, if not dangerous. Yes, dangerous, for mediocrity spreads like wildfire as men are always on the lookout for ways to sugarcoat their wrongdoings. The lucid and honest acceptance of one’s mediocrity, on the other hand, can count as a virtue, for it seems to be the hardest thing. Especially among westerners; spoiled for millennia by their delusional Jewish ancestors who would go on and on reciting that fairy tale from the Book of Genesis until the lie became truth: Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that THEY MAY RULE over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."; oblivious to the fact that men are nothing but glorified beasts at the mercy of a mindless and whimsical Nature that couldn’t care less about who holds the high moral ground. Well, things are not getting any better, good luck deflating their ego now that grandma Science and aunt Technology are supplying grand toys to the minuscule men." F.G.
I have been wandering high and low in search for purpose, as though purpose was the key to happiness, if not the organizing principle of the universe, only to realize that the highest moments of my existence, those fleeting moments of unconditional harmony, or happiness, if you will, were moments of absolute purposelessness. Many have tried, all have failed, to find the purpose and meaning of life, probably because life has no "end" other than itself (and death of course). And isn't that relieving? Acknowledging the purposelessness of life? Stop trying to look for what is simply not there and maybe open that door and finally start "being"? Walking down the shore, pick up a pebble and simply "enjoy the pebble" without the unbearable lightness of what cannot be found (purpose)?
Has ever occurred to you that what you see when you look "yourself" in the mirror, what you unconsciously consider your "true" physical representation, is not what other people see? And not because they filter the image of you through their own "categories", but simply because they see you and not the mirror image of you, which is familiar to you only. Which is also the reason why when you look yourself in a photograph you have that weird feeling of being looking at the face of a stranger.
I always wondered how my personality would have developed in a world without mirrors and pictures. How would you relate to yourself and the others without a preformed image of yourself? If everything is relation, if there can be more than one image of yourself, with each image being no more real than the others, then who are you? Can you conceive yourself and the world without frames of reference? After all, isn't what we call "identity" just a set of rules that puts us in relation to our surroundings? And if that set or rules is arbitrary, then, isn't the very concept of identity a mere delusion? Then when people tells us "just be yourself", what the hell are they talking about?
I say: stop trying being "yourself", there is no such a thing, embrace your true nature, break the rules,
be no one!
I know that sanity comes down to the realization that there is no such thing as a mistake. I know also that such a doctrine is easily put in practice by those who have a short memory. Some say that the first to forget is the happiest. Yet this knowledge is of no use to me as my mistakes keep haunting me in the form of judgmental ghosts of the past. It appears I have somehow sublimated the Catholic guilt inculcated in me during my childhood into some self-destructive narcissistic sense of guilt towards myself. Bottom line, one does not simply walk away from the nonsense of Christianity.
Today I remembered the day I went to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau. During the relatively long trip to get there I found myself wondering as to how I would react upon stepping into such an unspeakable place. As I considered myself a human being I expected dread and horror to orchestrate my stream of emotions. Surprisingly, I turned out to be wrong and yet right in an unsettling and unexpected way. Be it because of all the movies, documentaries, books and video games that somehow prepared my mind to it, to the point of making it "familiar" to my eyes; or the noisy crowds of tourists, whose unbearable weight levels everything out to yet another mere touristic attraction; the moment I stepped onto that dead-end railway where thousands if not millions of people met the end of their lives: I felt NOTHING. Nothing?!.. It took me a while to realize that that was the real horror. I didn't feel anything because I got used to it, I had already assimilated and digested the horror and I was fine with it. It became part of my "normality". Only that, at a closer look, such mechanism is exactly what made realities such as concentration camps possible. Apparently slow and perpetual assimilation of bits of inhumanity is the key to dehumanization. Realizing my unanticipated "inhumanity", made me feel a monster on the par with an SS officer. I cried, I swear I cried like a baby that has lost his mom. I cried because I realized that the rules of such wicked game still hold to this day, here and now, in our everyday life. We go on with our miserable lives, driven by false myths of progress and ambitions dressed in gold, without realizing that behind our comforts there are hundreds of "invisible" 21st century "concentration camps". We do know that whenever we buy a cheap dress or an iPhone the price we pay goes beyond the one advertised on the price tag, we know that modern slavery and environmental disasters come with it. Nevertheless, we are so used to it, we consider such realities so far removed that we don't hear, we don't see, we don't want to see... No I wonder, is this what humanity stands for? Am I myself a "human" being? Humanity is not on the stock market, it can't be bought, one has to fight for humanity everyday. In the age of information one cannot hide behind the curtain of ignorance. Because we do know and we can't afford letting the horror wear off with time. Whenever compartments of our conscience go numb we are giving up a bit of our freedom. We can tell to ourselves that we live in a free country until the lie turns into truth, or start exercising that freedom and stand up for what humanity should really stand for!
Everybody is utterly shocked and appalled when, for once, the western world gets a taste of war within its own borders. How come nobody is terrified when the western world deliberately sentences to death millions of people in the middle east (e.g. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine..) and/or North Africa (e.g. Libya) just because an oligarchy has decided so (so that we can sustain our decadent lifestyle at home)?? Isn't that terrorism? (Maybe neoliberal Nazism would be the right nomenclature here) Or is it that 100 people here are worth more than 1 million people on the other side of the world? Is it really a case of "out of sight out of mind"? Maybe not, considering that we don't get it even when who actually manages to flee the war (again in millions) comes at our door asking for asylum. 21st century mass migrations and terrorism are to a great extent a product of the western world. The moment we will all realize this and take the responsibility for our horrible deeds, we will live in a better world.