On Finishing

 Leonardo da Vinci is recorded as saying “art is never finished only abandoned”. In considering what it means to finish I identified the following. A work is finished when:
  • the dead-line is up
  • its purpose is served
  • someone makes a copy
  • those around you say it is finished
  • one’s time would be better spent elsewhere
  • the message is transmitted or received
  • (and tautologically) when it is complete

The Deadline is Up

For this project, there was a definite time-frame in which to complete an artefact. This is a good way to complete something, but it is not a standards-based metric so the quality is not the deciding factor.

Its Purpose is Served

What matters is some appropriate level of standard is achieved. This purpose could be to make something beautiful.

Someone Makes a Copy

If at some point someone makes a copy of a work, then that work is finished though work may continue in another copy.

Those Around You Say it is Finished

The advice of those close to you may be enough sometimes to get you to abandon work that is of a high enough standard or is taking too much of your resources.

One’s Time Would be Better Spent Elsewhere

Abandoning a work to work on something more fruitful may be a good strategy at times.

When it is Complete

Almost a tautology, but a work may feel complete in which case working on it further is waste or time or will reduce the quality. That is, having sat down to write a song, then ending up with a .mp3 will be sufficient reason to stop. Then again life is rarely so simple and we probably sat down to write a good song in which case the fuzzy metric “good” will be problematic.

The Message is Transmitted or Received

In conversation, sometimes one party says “are you finished?”. In this way if a project has communicated its message it can be deemed to be finished.

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On Finishing

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