reality cracking
Text Cracking

The exegesis section

Text reversing ~ rhetorical cracking


Example 2: Landlord vs Tenant: a "text-exegesis" crack

by VK , with a small exegesis addition by reverser+
21 September 1998
Reverser+, having read your "surreality cracking" paper today I send you a "real surreal" example of my own. I actually attempted text-cracking this letter a few days ago when I received it (yes it is a real letter). It was only today that I read your surreality paper - it was only today that you published it. I consider this a far simpler example than your own, but it surely is an example of a, as you say "ductus subtilis, where the Author simulates an opinion ... with a concealed aim ... to obtain in his audience a quite different effect." In this particular example I consider that this is attempted largely by means of the structure as opposed to content. Here I first set the scene - this document must be understood within it's wider context - followed by the document and my own text-exegesis comments.


This is the third occasion that my landlord has attempted to evict me from my rented home and I've previously employed solicitors to fight these actions. My defence is fairly complex as it's a legal argument, and the court date for the possession hearing is now nine or ten days away.

I have replied to the court summons stating that the notices seeking possession are not valid for reasons that don't need to be detailed here. This letter arrives after the court has sent a copy of my defence to these 'solicitors'.


The letter reads

Dear Sirs,

CASE NO: AB12345

Recently we received a cheque in an envelope without any covering letter. The cheque is for 52.00 dated 26 September 1998 issued by Abbey National and it is payable D.Gordon and gives the reference number VK/Gordon. You must appreciate that there are several people working in this office and we have got a number of files. We would ask you that in future if you send any cheque or any document to this office you should send a covering letter making it clear that it originates from you and with which particular case or file you are sending the name of the parties and also stating exactly why you are sending that document or cheque. If you do not follow the procedure which we have described then we regret that we may not know for what purpose the document or cheque has been sent.

We note your reply to possession is silent whether you agree or disagree with the arrears of rent set out in the Particulars of Claim. Would you please let us know whether you agree with the figures. In case you disagree with the figures then please explain why and how much amount you admit.

In the reply you say "payment of rent were initially delayed in order to force the landlord to carry out essential repairs". We hereby require you to supply us with details of each and every essential repair you are referring there, exactly what was (inserted manually in) disrepaired and when you reported it to the landlord and when the work was carried out.

Yours faithfully,



It is extremely important to consider this document in it's context. Although I am very concerned about this court case to evict me next week, I know that really they are unlikely to succeed and I expect that they will pull out at the last moment so that the court case does not happen. This is what has happened on 2 previous occasions and they have not got a case against me. Even if it goes to court, I have got another defence which I have not yet disclosed;

What first struck me about this document is the absolute CRAP that is that first paragraph. It is total nonsense - they had a reference and my name as drawer of the cheque, paid to my landlord. It got me thinking - Why are they writing this crap?. The answer is that they are deliberately trying to unsettle me. Then I noticed that the last paragraph is also fairly hostile - "We hereby require you ... This is especially relevant as I know that withholding rent to force the landlord to carry out repairs is not a defence to not paying the rent - and even these crap solicitors should know that. From there it was fairly easy - it's that central paragraph that they are really after.

I can see that they are keen to trap me into admitting that I owe a certain amount of rent (probably about 2,800) because otherwise they probably have no chance of getting it from me.

There's more to this analysis. O.K. it's fairly clear that they are from a different cultural background, but are they playing on that for their own advantage? Of course they are. They are acting dumb, hoping that I am racist, so that I consider them to be stupid as a racist would and slip up and give them what they want. Prospective solicitors would have to have a minimal standard of competence in English before anyone would accept them for training (and I would expect that to apply in India too). I am not at all impressed by this because it does not show any originality or creativity - I think of it as their habitual way of conducting themselves.

There is more. They are also trying to catch me by using a command from authority. The first paragraph is like a scolding from a child's parents. They have had to search for something to be able to do this - and what they found is far too poor. The last paragraph is similar but also asserts authority over me - they are telling that I must conform to their authority. I consider this very powerful as they are trying to get me to perform a certain action. By performing that action I would be submitting and accepting their authority. Then they would have real power over me. There is also the danger that by replying to that request, I would also slip-up and give them what they want.

Added by reverser+ on 21 October 1998

I think you should also note the 'reasonable argumentation' tone: the wording between You must appreciate and we regret that we may not acquires a sort of 'logical' might on its own.
There's also a rhetorical figure known as epitrope, here (or permissio): the Author is trying to imply that the path chosen by the reader will not serve the 'real' interests of the reader himself, reversers should note that this is a typical form of the simulatio, where an Author always fakes complete innocence and neutrality of intentions in order to deceive his reader (getting him rhetorically off-balance). The whole piece is a classical example of syntaxis obliqua a grammatical scheme to hyde semanthically important snippets inside background syntaxis, as VK correctly states.

Awaiting your corrections/contributions/ameliorations...

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