A post from Shady Characters

Miscellany № 43: sartalics \live\!

It’s a sad fact of life in this business (that is, the business of unusual punctuation marks) that many a promising mark has gone the way of the dodo. The SarcMark©, for instance, was a veritable punctuational mayfly; Paul Mathis’ attempt to rebrand ‘the’ as ‘Ћ’ was over almost as soon as it had begun; and so on, and so forth. The archives of this blog are littered with the corpses of failed innovations.

It is with some satisfaction, then, that I can now report that “Sartalics”, the digital reinterpretation of Tom Driberg’s “ironics”, or backwards-slanting italics, has recently been resuscitated. Nathan Hoang, one of the three advertising interns who launched sartalics.com back in 2011 (the others being June Kim and Blake Gilmore), has recently brought the long-dormant @Sartalics Twitter account back to life.

Rather than focusing on introducing an entirely new style of font, however, this time round Nathan is concentrating on the use of backslashes as a signal of ironic intent. I think this is actually a rather neat idea; the use of asterisks to imply bold or emphasised text is as old as the hills in Internet terms, and employing backslashes to convey \irony\ or \sarcasm\ is a very short leap from there. No fiddling with Unicode characters or font editors — textual sarcasm is right there at your fingertips. Clearly, though, sartalics in any form have a long way to go before they can claim to be in common use. As Nathan says himself,

Slow clap for #Sartalics. \A lot of progress\ since 2011.

What do you think? Is there a future for this most \useful\ of textual innovations?

As I research material for The Book I find myself subscribing to a whole new set of book- and manuscript-related blogs. Recently, at Jesse Hurlbut’s Manuscript Art blog, and apropos of nothing much at all, I came across this lovely decorative paragraph mark, or pilcrow. If you’re interested in seeing more, I highly recommend following Jesse’s blog.

In other news, Mark Libermann of UPenn’s Language Log blog brings to our attention the scandalous news that “EU rules ‘mean children can’t get life-saving cancer drugs’”; and, lastly, the ampersand inspires a poem at Magma Poetry.

Thanks for reading!

2 comments on “Miscellany № 43: sartalics \live\!

  1. Comment posted by Aryeh Kosman on

    Thought this might be of interest. From awakeningmind.org:

    This global narrative of the human evolutionary drama suggests that it is therefore of the utmost importance for our individual and collective interest and well being that we find a way to clearly mark and demark the difference between the destructiuve patterns of egocentric minding and the more healthful patterns of entering the global lens and mind in negotiating the Unified Global Field of Reality. And over the years in my teaching, research, public presentation and scholarship I have introduced simplified “markers” which encode these two contrasting technologies of being a human and makes quite explicit these two profoundly diverse dimensions of human life, experience, language, thought and existence:

    Whenever we are living, thinking, minding, experiencing and speaking through the egocentric lens, in the egocentric mind and technology, we mark this with “single brackets”= /…/™.

    So lets mark any word, term, concept, utterance, phenomenon…, call it “X”, appearing through the egocentric mind, voice, lens… between the markers – thus, /X/™.

    In this way we make it explicit that we are speaking and minding through within the /egocentric/ pattern.

    By contrast, I use “double brackets” – ((…))™ to mark any word, term, concept, utterance, phenomenon…, again call it “X”, that is being processed in and through the ((integral technology of mind)) thus, ((X))™.

    And in this way making it fully explicit that now we are in the integral and global dimension of experience, language and consciousness. So the ((…))™ sign functions as a specific ((technology and process for transforming mind, consciousness and life)), and accordingly transforms the significance of whatever its surrounds to its full ((holistic)) import and being, and thus functions as the ((global lens))™.

    With these markers demarcating the two great technologies of life and mind in the human condition we may sum up the main event in human evolution as precisely this profound transformation from /life/ to ((Life)); and here it may be said that the primary and decisive event in the human condition facing us at this critical stage is our individual and collective crossing from /egocentric life/ to the maturation and awakening of the ((global mind)). Our global narrative suggests that this monumental crossing as a species into the ((global lens)) is nothing less than our maturing to our true form as ((Humans)) and the very essence of our ((sustainability)) and ((flourishing)) as a ((human family)) sharing the ((common ground)) of our ((Sacred Earth)).

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Hi Aryeh — thanks for the comment. (I’ve edited it slightly for length and formatting.)

      It’s good to see the slash getting out and about in the typographic world, although I think some typographers might take exception to the idea that you can trademark a particular style of usage. Also, enclosing forward slashes are sometimes used in lieu of italics where italics are not available, which might confuse the issue a little.

      Thanks again!

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