I reviewed several books of New Stoicism for Fare Forward, and discussed my own Stoic-influenced childhood. Here’s an excerpt:
I loved Stoicism for two reasons, one petty and one profound. I liked that Stoicism seemed to make me stronger (and, thus, to my thinking then, better) than other people. While the other kids were upset, I was able to endure, and be unmastered by misfortune. (Stoicism was a pretty good way to get through the social cruelties of middle and high schools). But the other reason I liked Stoicism was because it was true. Hunger was basically a warning light, prompting me to eat. But, once the message had been received, there was no reason to leave the klaxon blaring when I couldn’t do anything about it. Leaning into hunger wasn’t just a recipe for frustration, it felt like buying into an untruth.
No matter how much I wanted it, I couldn’t summon food on the boat. Wallowing in my feelings seemed to imply that they were really hooked up to the causal nature of the world. But being upset about my inability to resolve such situations was as silly as feeling upset because I couldn’t walk through walls. Stoicism was a way of realigning my model of the world and my agency within it with the world as it truly is.
I joined Fare Forward‘s editor, Peter Blair, and one of the other contributors, Susannah Black, who had written on New Urbanism and the New Jerusalem for the issue for a panel discussion hosted by NYU.
We both spoke on our articles, and then had a lively time fielding questions from Peter and from the audience. You can listen to the full event below: