An adjective meaning self-completing, from the Greek "auto" for "self" and "telos" for "end" or "purpose" (as in teleology).

The term comes from the New Critical school of literary criticism, which held that a work of literature (or art) should be considered to be a discrete object. Social, biographical, and other considerations may be interesting, but ultimately the meaning of a work can only be found in the work itself.

This school held that the "purpose" of art was to be beautiful, not to moralize or serve some outside purpose. Art for art's sake.

So, an autotelic work is one that is its own end. Autotelism is the belief that art is autotelic, or the state of being autotelic.

It's the soft exhale of exhilaration
pulsating mantra:
good, yes, now, right
acts precede thoughts precede plans
hands still somehow rightly working
playing, more like
like when a cupboard opens
and you catch the falling glass
wondering what your hand is doing
but protracted
moments just like that but connected
a string of experience that you could
later call beautiful, after it ended
like the heartbeating drums
talking across spans of forest
singing together in the gloaming
players praying and falling away
laying bare the rhythms deep below
the forms
the rules, the words, that gave rise to it all
in the beginning there was the
in the being there is the
in the dying there is the
while we're here to sense it
while we construct and destroy it
good, yes, now, right
show me the picture and I'll
show you the message
spelled out in its ashes
I swallow it whole and say it is

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