This chapter examines the concept of interruption in the third person by revisiting one of the most canonical moments of apparent interruption in English literary history: Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem “Kubla Khan.” It was the twentieth-century poet Stevie Smith who made a kind of hero of Coleridge's “person from Porlock” and unforgettably tied him to the question of interruption, and, by implication, of the surcease of death. A “person” is one of the three modes of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and a grammatical class of personal pronouns (first person, second person, third person). It is in this curious conjunction of triads, the three Persons of the Trinity and the three persons of grammar, that we may find some speculative space for imagining a theory of interruption. In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Sigmund Freud explores that impulse to continuity without undue excitation that he calls the death drive, and the sexual instincts which excite and disrupt that orderly process.
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