The Inauguration, Irrationality, and Aesop Rock

John Morris
4 min readJan 23, 2021

“Here’s one: every time my telephone buzzes
I see images of hooded riders setting fire to hundreds.” — Aesop Rock, ‘Shrunk’

If you’re observant enough, you can pick up on little habits in irrationality.

If you watch someone be wrong the same way enough times, and start to look at why their faults are so similar, you get to understand a slice of their mind.

It helps you to better your interactions with them. You now don’t push certain buttons, because pushing would cause anger. You know that when someone snaps, they don’t mean it. You learn that some don’t apologize for things if they aren’t in a spot to, but may try to tell you sorry in other ways.

You pick up on those ways, and other neat tidbits about their lives, just through being keen. Of course, these habits are terribly hard to find in ourselves. How hilariously ironic that most of us hate some part of our outward appearance, yet can’t see internal flaws even if we try?

You try to learn your own errors partially for yourself and partially for others. You wish that other people were in positions to search for and improve themselves, but you are, so you want to.

I’m a lucky one, graced with the burden of finding a fault in my thinking.

I get really scared about certain types of things.

I don’t want to say unavoidable things, because then it sounds like a whole control-freak Freudian-deal. It’s not that. There are just certain types of events that I despise because, to me, they are inevitable.

I discovered this because I’d begun talking politics with family recently (as many have) and I had been pretty confident that there would be some major event at the Inauguration. Violence. And I hated it, and I was just so sure. I saw the headlines. I saw the pictures. I knew it was coming.

And then nothing happened. Even though nobody’s taunted me about it, I feel a twinge of shame when I think about just how wrong I was. My instinct is to think of why I feel that shame.

I was certain there would be blood. I underestimated our government’s ability to sort itself out (like many). I was expecting another riot and a complacent military, just like January 6th.

I was afraid of nothing, and had been genuinely frightened by it; enough to cause me serious discomfort.

Of course, this is nothing new. I am Anxious™, and have been for quite a while. Upon diagnosis, I learned that some of my most annoying habits and self-critical habits were caused by anxiety.

I’d only just begun to realize that many experiences of my life could be linked in the feeling of anxiousness as well.

I felt dread at the prospect of violence on Inauguration Day. The same dread I felt before passing out in front of my 6th-grade Reading class while giving a book report. I can even recall the earliest time I’d felt that dread: before my (10th?) birthday party as a child.

We’d booked it at the local skating rink, and I’d only been skating once or twice. At the nearby church, some kid was playing around and ended up cracking his skull on the ground. I saw myself falling during my party and busting my head open.

I cried to my mother in the car on the way over, afraid.

“Then again it’s probably a trap, somebody had to set it
Depending on the type, maybe several
Yeah, that’s it, it’s probably several, several come together
To make what would’ve taken one forever
I’m thinking it’s a pretty damn sophisticated trap
Utilizing some technology I didn’t know we had”

“Spirit World Field Guide” album cover — Found on

Aesop opens up “Dog at the Door” with onomatopoeia and well-delivered storytelling as he paints the scene of his dog barking at a sound outside. Then he tells a train of thought, always returning to it being a trap.

It’s short, it’s sweet, it’s got a banger of a beat that Aes himself produced, and it tells a pretty relatable tale if you’ve ever been consumed by paranoia.

As a child struggling to navigate mental health, I clung to Aesop’s “Shrunk”. It’s a simple song where Aesop vents about his problems with therapists and the system while ultimately concluding in the end that he needs it.

I didn’t have quite the bitter relationship Aesop seemed to with any of my counselors. It still felt nice hearing someone else feeling failed by therapy, while knowing it can be (and is) more than I’m making it as someone in it.

When I found out he had a track about paranoia put out during 2020, a year filled with reasons to be paranoid? Sign me up.

The way he captures his own anxious thoughts in it are chilling. The instrumental helps set the frightened tone early on. If you’re observant enough to watch for it, he tries to play with tensions he builds up in your ear during the track. Just listen for when he says the word trap.

Paranoia is an everyday thing for many. If you’ve ever found yourself paralyzed by a noise outside, you should try giving the track a listen. I swear you can learn a lot just by absorbing this guy’s stuff. Even when it’s just a glimpse of fears.

Aesop’s a smart guy. At the least, he’s the wordiest rapper, even being wordier than Shakespeare. He’s talented as well, and that’s what makes his music as genuine as it is. It’s witty and clever and genius, all the while serving as a mirror for the artist.

“Dog at the Door” is no different.