The Best and the Worst of Interrupting Yourself

 

You know how it is: You’re saying something, but before you can finish saying it you think of something else you have to say, and it seems important, so you say it immediately, interrupting yourself.  Maybe you forgot what you were saying entirely. Or maybe you decided it didn’t matter. Or maybe you thought you could come back to it.  Maybe you did come back to it, but maybe not.

I know I do that.  I think just about everyone does.

The Apostle Paul does this in the New Testament.  He does it the best. Here’s a nice example, and you can see how nicely it works out:

Paul in 1 Corinthians:

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.  For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?  I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)  For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

No sooner has Paul had his amanuensis jot down that he only baptized Crispus and Gaius in Corinth than he remembers he also got to Stephanas’ household. No sooner has he gotten that jotted down than he realizes he has to add parenthetically that he’s only noting whom he can remember baptizing at the oment; he’s not making a complete, once-for-all-time list.

Then he immediately gets back to his theological point.  It all works out fine.

Contrast this with the President of the United States.  He does it the worst:

Joe Biden:

[Unclear.] Ya know [unclear], well, what–what do you wanna do with Biden? “I wanna box him.” Hmm. I should be so lucky. You know, I mean. But it is the . . . the . . . kinds of things or, you know, stuff that is comin’ out of Florida, stuff that’s comin’ out of, you know, . . . Robert E. Lee [unclear] in Afghanistan. You’re the one! [Unclear.] Anyway, . . .

We can guess at some of the statements that got interrupted:  Some opponent would like to box me, and I almost wish I could take it out in a punching match with that guy! Meanwhile, terrible stuff is happening in Florida.  And, alas, even a great general like Robert E. Lee couldn’t have fixed Afghanistan!

Maybe.

And maybe not.  At any rate, a single complete thought is hard to find in all that; independent clauses are left incomplete, and there’s no sign of the speaker ever coming back to them.

Yeah, Paul does it the best, and it’ll be Halloween season soon, and I’m already listening to Mannheim Steamroll Halloween music on YouTube, and I like that music, and I also like a nice cup of tea in the mornings, and how ’bout them vaccines, huh?

But to get back to the point: Paul does it the best, and Biden does it the worst.

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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Paul is mostly sticking to the point. I think that by professing not to remember the details, he is actually emphasizing that it just doesn’t matter.

    One of the reasons I keep my comments short is that the monsters that I am capable of producing would horrify my English teachers.

    • #1
  2. Mountie Coolidge
    Mountie
    @Mountie

    Saint Augustine:

    Joe Biden:

    . You’re the one! [Unclear.] Anyway, . . .

    No telling what he meant by this   

    And, alas, even a great general like Robert E. Lee couldn’t have fixed Afghanistan!

    Now if he had actually used Lee as a reference point for Afghanistan we’d be left to wonder 1- did he think the war was that old? and 2- it would be fun to see the Cancel Culture tear him apart for even so much as a mention of Lee’s name  

     

     

    • #2
  3. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Paul’s excuse is the pressure of being chosen by God.

    Biden’s excuse is dementia.

    My excuse is that I’m usually drunk.

    • #3
  4. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    Paul’s excuse is the pressure of being chosen by God.

    Biden’s excuse is dementia.

    That, and they have a lot to say.  Maybe Biden used to do it better; of course, he was still saying incorrect things most of the time, unlike Paul.

    • #4
  5. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    Also note that in the technology of the time, it would be hard for him to go back and correct his writing error, so he just amended it.

    Slow Joe should just stick to plagiarism. 

    • #5
  6. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Saint Augustine: But to get back to the point: Paul does it the best, and Biden does it the worst.

    The only reason you think Biden does it the worst is because you haven’t heard me.

    • #6
  7. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    I get the impression many times that one of his handlers is saying something in his earpiece that interrupts Joe’s train of thought (such as it is), and he forgets what he was saying before he was interrupted. Maybe I’m giving Joe too much credit.

    • #7
  8. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    I’m very sure that comparing Joe to Paul is as inapt as comparing him to Churchill or Shakespeare. Closer to the mark would be Gracie Allen or Lou Costello. Maybe some of those vintage Jerry Lewis characters. 

    • #8
  9. Freeven Inactive
    Freeven
    @Freeven

    Trump also interrupts himself constantly. He can’t seem to get through a sentence without littering it with tangential, incomplete thoughts. He will reference half a dozen things, without fleshing them out or explaining how they are related. The listener has to be somewhat informed in order to understand what is being referred to and how it ties in. But it does tie in. With Biden, no matter how charitable you try to be, it’s often impossible to know what the hell is talking about. It sure seems like the difference between ADD on the one hand and dementia on the other.

    • #9
  10. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Sisyphus (View Comment):

    I’m very sure that comparing Joe to Paul is as inapt as comparing him to Churchill or Shakespeare. Closer to the mark would be Gracie Allen or Lou Costello. Maybe some of those vintage Jerry Lewis characters.

    Rule: Anything can be profitably compared to anything.  

    • #10
  11. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Freeven (View Comment):

    Trump also interrupts himself constantly. He can’t seem to get through a sentence without littering it with tangential, incomplete thoughts. He will reference half a dozen things, without fleshing them out or explaining how they are related. The listener has to be somewhat informed in order to understand what is being referred to and how it ties in. But it does tie in. With Biden, no matter how charitable you try to be, it’s often impossible to know what the hell is talking about. It sure seems like the difference between ADD on the one hand and dementia on the other.

    Good observation.  This led to some of his most troublesome public utterances, like the musing about injecting bleach or whatever.

    • #11
  12. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    At first I thought you were talking about l’esprit d’escalier, a condition I frequently suffer from.

    No, wait . . . what I meant to say, was . . .

    • #12
  13. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Freeven (View Comment):

    Trump also interrupts himself constantly. He can’t seem to get through a sentence without littering it with tangential, incomplete thoughts. He will reference half a dozen things, without fleshing them out or explaining how they are related. The listener has to be somewhat informed in order to understand what is being referred to and how it ties in. But it does tie in. With Biden, no matter how charitable you try to be, it’s often impossible to know what the hell is talking about. It sure seems like the difference between ADD on the one hand and dementia on the other.

    Good observation. This led to some of his most troublesome public utterances, like the musing about injecting bleach or whatever.

    Oh, that was easy to understand. He never said to inject bleach. He was talking about UV light therapy used inside the body — this is a real thing — and how it works like disinfectant, and the press, being the demons from hell that they are, twisted his words until it’s now “common knowledge” that he said to inject bleach.

    Sort of like how everyone knows Sarah Palin said “I can see Russia from my house.”

    I mean, she didn’t, but everyone knows that she did.

    Because the press are demons from hell.

    I actually enjoyed listening to Trump speak, because I could easily follow his train of thought as he jumped from one thing to the next. The connections he made always made perfect sense to me.

    (I kind of understood Biden’s weird Robert E Lee in Afghanistan thing, too.)

    • #13
  14. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Freeven (View Comment):

    Trump also interrupts himself constantly. He can’t seem to get through a sentence without littering it with tangential, incomplete thoughts. He will reference half a dozen things, without fleshing them out or explaining how they are related. The listener has to be somewhat informed in order to understand what is being referred to and how it ties in. But it does tie in. With Biden, no matter how charitable you try to be, it’s often impossible to know what the hell is talking about. It sure seems like the difference between ADD on the one hand and dementia on the other.

    Good observation. This led to some of his most troublesome public utterances, like the musing about injecting bleach or whatever.

    He never said “inject bleach”.

    • #14
  15. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf (View Comment):

    I actually enjoyed listening to Trump speak, because I could easily follow his train of thought as he jumped from one thing to the next. The connections he made always made perfect sense to me.

    (I kind of understood Biden’s weird Robert E Lee in Afghanistan thing, too.)

    I think Trump’s clear as a bell when he digresses.  And I’m always impressed that he retains his logical thread.

    But I think Biden was talking about a statue of Lee that people were against tearing down or something.  Frankly I don’t know.  And it’s unclear from the transcript.

    • #15
  16. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    I am just  this side of ADHD. I go off, but I always come back to my point. 

    Just be patient. 

     

    • #16
  17. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I am just this side of ADHD. I go off, but I always come back to my point.

    Just be patient.

    I come back to my point, too, when I can remember what it was.  Usually it happens after everyone has gone home.  

    • #17
  18. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I am just this side of ADHD. I go off, but I always come back to my point.

    Just be patient.

    I come back to my point, too, when I can remember what it was. Usually it happens after everyone has gone home.

    I can lose my train of thought between the beginning of the sentence and the end.

    • #18
  19. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Percival (View Comment):

    I can lose my train of thought between the beginning of the sentence and the end.

    You missed a golden opportunity there.

    I can lose my train of thought between the beginning of the sentence and look, Halley’s Comet!

    • #19
  20. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    I can lose my train of thought between the beginning of the sentence and the end.

    You missed a golden opportunity there.

    I can lose my train of thought between the beginning of the sentence and look, Halley’s Comet!

    I considered that when I began, but it slipped away from me.

    • #20
  21. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Actually, I do have a problem that ENTJ’s are known to have, which is I don’t always complete my thought, because it is so damn obvious that

    • #21
  22. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

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    • #22
  23. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Actually, I do have a problem that ENTJ’s are known to have, which is I don’t always complete my thought, because it is so damn obvious that

    that what?!  This is infuriating.

    • #23