What Programming Language Would Yoko Ono Create?


Secret Piece from Yoko Ono's Grapefruit (1964)

“The arts which today have the most vitality for the average person are the things he does not take to be arts” - John Dewey, Art as Experience

Esolangs are experiential works. As has been expressed since the earliest posts of esoteric.codes (reiterated in this twitter thread this morning), we engage with esolangs by writing code in them, which forces us to come to terms with their logic and with the behavior of the virtual machines they define.

This post is not about such languages.

This post is about languages that deliberately frustrate that experience. They make it hard to write code, not as an enticing challenge—like a Tarpit that promises Turing Completeness via strange machinations—but through absolute refusal. This includes languages where nothing is code or everything is, or where code can be written but carries no signification, or that otherwise break down that process of controlling a machine through a text or binary sequence. Many—but not all—are listed as Unusable for Programming on the esolangs wiki, which does not consider languages like brainfuck and Malbolge “unusable” but only (extremely) inconvenient.

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This entry originally appeared at esoteric.codes/blog/what-programming-language-would-yoko-ono-write, and may be a summary or abridged version.