A Recent History of Ironic Exclamations for Chuck Klosterman


Chuck Klosterman’s last book, from October, has an attack on the use of the exclamation point as a marker of irony. It’s making the rounds today online, since someone is reading it. Klosterman’s opinion: It’s “idiotic. It’s the saddest kind of failure.” Klosterman is talking overall about the rhetorical practices of feigned ignorance, distancing in general and also about the most convenient punctuation markers to make things clear to the reader-though he believes these markers make things ever more unclear. At least, he approvingly quotes Fitzgerald as against exclamation points. Let’s look at some recent history!

(That was an exclamation point of excitement, not a marker of irony tinged with anger, as so much of exclamation-point related irony actually is. I did not at all mean the opposite of what I was writing! I was encouraging you to look at some history with me.)

Mark Nanos’s The Irony of Galatians: Paul’s Letter in First-Century Context, published in 2002, suggests that an inability (or unwillingness) to read the irony in Galatians had some ill effects, up to and including the Holocaust. But to any modern reader, the irony in Galatians seems extremely well-indicated.

This passage discusses Galatians 1:6. The 21st Century King James Version of Galatians 1:6–9 goes:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him, that called you into the grace of Christ, for another gospel.

For this is not another; but there are some who trouble you and would pervert the Gospel of Christ.

But should we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

As we said before, so say I now again: If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that which ye have received, let him be accursed!

On this topic, Nanos has this to say.