Individual Work
Days of JavaMoon

Days of JavaMoon (2000), by Vietnamese writer Duc Thuan, is a mixture of poetry, prose, image (graphic and photorealistic), and computer code, which inflects—or, in a story concerned with illness and disease, infects— the semantic space of the text. It was self-published and subsequently republished in Volume III of the now defunct online new media literary and arts journal Cauldron & Net (

Days of JavaMoon falls under the rubric of "codework," where the incorporation and recombination of elements of programming language, binary code, and mark-up conventions defamiliarizes the work of art, potentially comprising the majority or even entirety of the text. Duc Thaun's text, however, exhibits a form of codework whereby the surface text is neither continually altered or dynamically generated by the underlying code. Rather, here code affects—or afflicts—the surface.

The thematic concerns of the text are vast despite its relatively small size, ranging from cross-cultural (Eastern / Western) investigations of sexual and identity politics to a simple meditation on being lost in a cybernetic world/text. The work is also reflexive, with the implied writer/programmer continually questioning his role in creating the text, which is at once a creation and interrogation of his own identity. At one point, for example, there is a command to "sort Identities = 1; //Automatically sort identities between Duc Thuan and I … //(1 or 0?)…," which is an example of a "function" that reflects the way in which the programming code called JavaScript operates.

The reference to "Java" in the work's title, then, in addition to placing the work geographically, is an overt allusion to the author's own poetic-programmatic style and his use of JavaScript, the code, to script his characters and scene. The reader, in turn, not only plays the role of human interpreter but also that of machine reader, receiving a prompt to "sort" (read: deconstruct) the relationship between Duc Thuan and the writing/narrating "I." (That "Duc Thuan" is in fact the pen name of Vietnamese writer Duc Thuan Tran suggests that this deconstructive exercise occurs on many levels).

The text maintains a continual dialogue between the technological and the literary. For example, computer programs are often based on repetitions of a set number of steps, and those repetitions are controlled by a program's main loop. In this text / computer program, repetition is not only a material quality, but a formal and thematic one as well. The narrator at one point offers a description of his father, who is suffering from what is most likely some form of cancer. His father's pain, like so much of the work's pathos, is presented as a function of computer code:


---'painRepeat' ---’function’ >>> ‘story event’

!-- Begin
weight = 130 pounds, height = 5.5 feet, painInterval = 30 minutes;
phenomenon = body.pain('The pain circulated inside my father's bones','red blood cell = millions, white blood cell = millions');
phenomenon.movedTo(arms, legs);
painIntervalID = body.happened_twice_a_day('pain()', morning and evening);
arm_bones = throbbing.pain;
leg_bones = throbbing.pain;

function painRepeat() {
painInterval = 30 minutes…



The work is also available on the author's site at the following urls: