Indeterminate Language

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Kim Vanderheiden, “Truth” (2015)

Kim Vanderheiden, “Truth” (2015) 18×18 inches, Letterpress, pen & ink, torn paper collage.

Define “Art,” or “Beauty.” Although the words are used commonly, everyone sees them through their own personal lens. The nature of language to be indeterminate is both a blessing and a curse. It makes poetry beautiful, but renders legal code difficult to write and understand. Despite tremendous effort given to pinning down meaning through complicated legal language, the ambiguous nature of words still leaves the window open to successfully argue positions that are outside the law’s intent.

The length and complexity of our laws and contracts attempt to thwart the effects of indeterminate language. Does this solution help citizens to live by our laws, or may it actually cause infractions because citizens don’t know what these documents say?