Vexed by President Trump’s failure to condemn rioting white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, all thirteen members of the U.S. President’s Committee on the Arts & the Humanities (which included actor Kal Penn and Pulitzer prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri) resigned en masse in August. Their resignation letter was scathing and formidable. (You can read it here.) But that wasn’t all.
Maybe three days later, the Science Envoy for the Department of State, Daniel M. Kammen, also resigned. His letter contained the acrostic “IMPEACH”.
Read the source material and you get one message. But read the acrostic and it can give you a thought-provoking, even jarring new perspective.
Readers are too. Until we realize that the last paragraph contains an acrostic: a message from Sybil herself, telling us that she has been reaching out from beyond the grave to manipulate the narrator’s view of the world from the story’s very beginning.
Perhaps I ought to end with a happier tale of the use of an acrostic. A love story.
In it, Cynthia describes how when she was 81, she received a mysterious package: an envelop full of cryptograms and a return address given in latitude and longitude. The sight of the cryptograms jogged Cynthia’s memory: at age 18, while working in a marine biology lab, she and a kindly colleague, Howard, used to swap them. He had kept them for 62 years.