The first place I recall seeing this word was in a look at Marlon Brando’s career (which was not over at the time); the phrase was “stoic in On the Waterfront.” Somehow I understood the right pronunciation the first time, though there’s good reason not to; one might on looking at it imagine it sounds like most of the name of that most he-dude of skaters, karate-kicker on ice, the one who managed to hold it together in an Olympic performance in spite of having seriously pulled a muscle, only letting on with a wince when he stopped. But, no, Stojko is not in this one, even if this one has been in him. Who is in it? Zeno. Does that seem paradoxical? Well, let us draw near – to Zeno’s porch, where he sat and lectured. In classical Greek, “porch” is stoa, and so his group of ethically austere philosophers are known as the Stoics. In the simplest sense, the stoic line is: if you feel an emotion, stow it – Vulcanize yourself and be hardened. And, in common usage, it is not as likely that you will be or become stoic as that you will remain stoic, as though stoicism were the natural state. More particularly, your face will remain stoic. Well, there it is: keep that stiff upper lip. If the world says I cost, if you are in India and are beset by marauding dacoits, or if you seek coitus but find it does not involve u, then what is left but to be stoic?
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