It’s hard not to be amused by the SarcMark and the notion that writers need a symbol to express sarcasm. And yet, I worry that this new emoticon (someone’s already peddling the software that will add it seamlessly to your happy/sad face repertoire) is just another way to dumb down the writing process. If you can’t convey sarcasm on the page (or the screen) with the right combination of syntactical elements such as repetition, hyperbole, and oppositional concepts–and a dash of general mean spiritedness–well then you probably should just resort to being earnest.
Can you imagine these people using a SarcMark?
“No, Groucho is not my real name. I am breaking it in for a friend.” – Groucho Marx
“You have delighted us long enough.” – Jane Austen
“He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston Churchill
“Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” – Mark Twain.
“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.” – William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)
“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?” – Ernest Hemingway