by Lael Ewy
1.0. Being in trouble—and the feeling of being in trouble, with its flush of the cheeks and stomach's continual fall—presupposes the existence of an authority, real or imagined, to be in trouble with.
1.1. An authority has his hooks in you, even before you know you're snared.
2.0. Grown-ups are just as prone to feeling like they're in trouble as kids are, which
2.1. tells us that being in trouble is not a necessary part of being a child, but rather it's the first step of becoming an adult:
2.2. the realization that one's power is limited, her place in the hierarchy not as lofty as she thought.
2.3. This leads to a few different reactions. Among them are acceptance and rejection.
2.4. Rejection of one's place in the hierarchy can be further subdivided: rebellion against the hierarchy and a grinding need to continually further one's place within it.
2.4.1. These reactions are not mutually exclusive within any given individual, but one generally outweighs the other.
2.5. From the first subdivision we gather rejects and weirdos, artists and originals. From the latter we gather stockbrokers and social climbers, politicians and revolutionaries.
3.0. These latter types, unable to make sense of their existential positions through personal or creative expression, are all trying to defeat the same thing: the constant, sinking feeling that they are in trouble.
3.1. This feeling is similar to the feeling of responsibility, but it floats free, exhilarating, yet unattached to compassion or love, and one runs across it unbidden, at moments as arbitrary and pernicious as the projection of power:
3.2. the agent's probing stare, the buzz of an alarm clock, white letters on a field of red.
3.3. If a politician paints himself as an outlaw, with war paint and feathers, he is a liar, as much as a revolutionary who claims to be bringing The New Law;
3.4. they are both headed for the comfort of the same old throne, the place from which they can be the trouble they always see in the world.
4.0. Power, then, is the fundamental problem of being in trouble, the internalization of shame, the call to forever destroy one's own dignity before it is publicly quartered.