cover image You Die at the End: Meditations on Mortality and the Human Condition

You Die at the End: Meditations on Mortality and the Human Condition

William Ferraiolo. O-Books, $25.95 trade paper (376p) ISBN 978-1-78904-393-8

Drawing from Stoic philosophy, Ferraiolo (Meditations on Self-Discipline and Failure) offers tough-minded and irreverent meditations intended to caustically jolt readers toward a life of rugged individualism and self-reliance. Each meditation is preceded by biblical quotations, which serve as inspiration for Ferraiolo’s free-wheeling stoic interpretations. He explains how the Stoics taught that happiness or contentment is found only through the sober acceptance of reality and the cultivation of virtue to improve oneself. Ferraiolo’s tone can be blistering, particularly when he rails against postmodernism, collectivism, political correctness, equality, and more. Through confrontational and sometimes troubling rhetoric (“you are free to ignore, ridicule, or silently condemn authority as you see fit, or as reason dictates. Let the masses hang”), Ferraiolo seeks to push readers out of a “herd instinct” mentality to show that they are not special and to nudge them toward pursuing a noble existence in the face of inevitable mortality. The meditations can be deeply nihilistic, calling the reader and people in general “imbeciles,” “morons,” “apes,” and “idiots,” presumably in service of destroying the ego to build it anew, but Ferraiolo’s misanthropic take is likely a bridge too far for most. This narrow view of how stoicism can be applied to self-help will only appeal to readers who respond well to tough love. (July)