T Nation

Is your goal really manly?

I was reading an article on Ralf Moeller. In The Gladiator he had to add some fat for the role because having a “cut” physique was not practical. Fat was needed for gladiators to survive. What I am asking is, isn’t this “cut” physique we strive for less masculine because there are no reserves to rely on in stressful situations. Is this current trend a based on a false premise. Any thoughts?

I think this `ripped physique that we try to achieve comes from the ideals of greek sculptures who carved their statues to look like the gods.

Alphonso Lingis wrote some interesting stuff about this. In our world of excesses (he’s a philosophy of excesses BTW), extra fat isn’t really all that necessary. In fact, the huge musculature being carried around by many a gym-goer is wholly unnecessary in such a mechanized age. However, from a Nietzschean standpoint, life is justified only through aesthetics… and the deep, deep implication here is that “living dangerously” as Nietzsche puts it, is the only way to live a full (or overfull) life, is the only way to exist with a justification that isn’t mired by self-deception and illusion. Okay, so I skipped over a lot of the middle stuff, but if you’re interested in philosophy or Nietzsche I can definitely suggest some awesome reading material.

Ryan, I have to disagree. The Greek and Roman statues do not look grotesque like modern bodybuilders. To put it another way, they look like today’s bodybuilders when they are “off season.”

Dystopiate, Nietszche was a schizophrenic who believed himself to be the antichrist, and heard voices speak to him that he belived belonged to an entity named Zarathustra. By his own account, he was often seen disoriented and laughing and mumbling to himself. Although his psychotic world view is revered by Satanists and Nazis, it has no place among decent men. Nietszche described himself as "the most horrible human being that ever lived." Well, I won't argue with him there.

Get real guys. Bodybuilding ideals are based soley on cosmetic appeal. There is little that is practical about the huge/ripped physique. A Mr. Olympia physique wouldn’t fair well outside the world of modern conveniences (nor would it even be possible to obtain). As for being “less masculine”, that really depends on your beliefs and views on masculinity.

Jasan Baran - those statements on Nietzsche reflect his mental state AFTER he became ill. Nietzsche was one of the most profound thinkers of the 20th century. even Freud said Nietzsche knew more about himself than anyone else who ever lived. Extreme introspection is not for the cowardice as they are usually afraid of what they might find. Before you make a judgement on Nietzsche read every book written about the man, preferably those written by Walter Kauffman, the foremost biographer of Nietzsche. Introductory Philosophy classes do not count nor do simple Western Philosophy history book.

To be the best product possible according to my own terms

I largely agree with DGSkalsky… but to add some things: Nietzsche never proclaimed to hear the voice of Zarathustra – Zarathustra is a character, a virtual alter ego, that Nietzsche penned. He was not a schizophrenic… he was, however, a syphillitic. And that he was appropriated and bastardized by the nazis is ironic since he was so vehemently and out-rightly anti-antisemetic. Whoever makes comments against Nietzsche like these has clearly either (a) not read Nietzsche, or (b) was unable to grasp the message of constant self-transcendence and aesthetics that imbues his works… a message we of the weight training community should understand better than most anyone.

What kind of stressfull situations are we going to run into these days? The bagger at the grocery store put my eggs in the bottom of the bag instead of the top, that fag in the BMW just cut me off. It isn’t like someone is going to kidnap you in your sleep and drop you off in the middle of the amazon jungle. I don’t think many of us are going to have to swim 100 miles through the ocean in our lifetime. The time and age you refer to was vastly different, there was no knowledge of supplements, drugs, people didn’t live very long, so of course they wouldn’t have looked like atheletes do now. I don’t agree with drugging it in sports, but I certainly don’t think it is less masculine for a male to wish to excel at something, to be more defined, stronger, faster, smarter.

Manly eh? Functional? We strive for?
OK, when you say we, are you talking about bodybuilders, strongmen or strength athletes? (Notice I left out runners and other endurance geeks) Everyone needs to remember that during the days of the Greeks and their mythological Gods they took what looked best to them and assumed the gods would look a bit better. If we were to do the same today would our gods look like theirs? When I see functional fighters in the ring, as in the UFC what do they look like. Big? Ripped? I’ve never seen one with the 5% minus bodyfat of a bodybuilder or the 300+ lbs of beef on a small bone frame. Bodybuilders are far from the ideal. I say the better question here is… Who would you consider your God as in body and ability now. Gracie? Arnold? Dorian? TC? If anyone says something like the Backstreet Boys… Ban them from this list!

I like to take the perspective more from evolutionary psychology. Around 99% of our genes are from the period in which we were hunter gatherers. Most of our motivation, instincts, likes and dislikes come from what dictated survival at that time. That is why we are prone to attraction of voluptious, beautiful, young women, because those were the traits which helped a woman birth a healthy child. Whether if it’s still practical or not today is beside the point. The ideal physique for a man would probably be what enabled the hunter gatherer to best ensure a productive life, i.e. killing animals, protection from predators, ability to survive famines etc… A generally muscular man with a body fat of around 10% or so would probably be consided the ideal. Yes this is only theory but regardless, still quite interesting I would say.

Dsystopiate and DGSkalsky… I would be interested in some reading material regarding Nietzschean, or other interesting philosphers of the sort. Any recommendations?

If anyone says anything like the backstreet boys we should draw and quarter them, and then post the pictures of it on this website.

Not schizophrenic at all.
Nietzsche did go insane thanks to syphilis but not until the late 1880’s I believe. Also
Zarathrustra (pen name) was based on a figure from the Persian
zoroastrian cult. Probably the greatest thinker of all time. The kaufman books are incredible. (as dystopiate stated)
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Dystopiate, although it’s true that Nietszche loved Judaism, his thinking was in line with Nazi ideology. Nietszche hated Christianity and viewed it as a religion for the weak. According to his philosophy, those deemed inferior deserved to be exterminated so as not to pollute the genepool and prevent man from evolving into gods or “supermen.” His thinking, and ironically, the Nazis thinking, are in line with Judaism as well. Judaism is the most racist, hate-filled “religion” known to man. The Jews main “holy book,” the Babylonian Talmud teaches that Christians and all other non-Jews are beasts with human form, whose souls come from three satanic spheres. The Talmud, as well as the Torah (Old Testament), teaches that the Jews have the right to subvert, and loot non-Jewish nations via usury (moneylending with interest). The Jews 3,000 year old tradition of nation wrecking has still yet to be broken.

Jason, you probably haven’t been exposed to as much Nietzsche as I have since my concentration is in philosophy, and Nietzsche is the one who turned me on to it… To clarify, Nietzsche did not loves Jews or Judaism. He disliked them, as he did anyone and anything that preached an afterlife. He just harbored a greater dislike for anti-semites and German nationalists. And here’s my big gripe with your last post: He was NOT for the extermination of those who were not ubermenschen/overmen. In fact, the overman is not an attainable goal, but rather, something that is to be constantly sought… it comes down to the constant drive of the will to power, self-transcendence, becoming, always attempting to be greater than what you already are. I’ll give you two quick notes and be on my way: Nietzsche wrote that rather than loving one’s neighbor, we should love our enemies because they place us into an agon out of which we can become stronger. He also wrote that we should form the hardest wall off of which to repell ourselves… the implication here being that we should make of the “common men”, of “the herd” something useful to ourselves, i.e. the herd is necessary for our own self-transcendence. He would not be for the “Extermination” of these people. He would, however, be for the bringing up of these people to a level greater than the one they are at (perhaps via education of truths greater than the ones propogated by the masses; to take a mundane example near and dear to us, the greater truth of the importance of essential fats rather than the USDA’s cut-the-fat program). He would be for this raising up of the herd so as to form a harder wall off of which to repell to better ourselves. He wasn’t for “extermination”, he was for self-transcendence, and he recognized that the herd would always exist… such is the nature of humanity, and you can find this recognition in his excerpts on eternal recurrance paired with his being a philosopher of becoming.

Hi Brian, if you’re interested in an intro to Nietzsche, I’d suggest anything translated and edited by Walter Kaufmann… he includes lots of his own notes on Nietzsche, and he’s largely responsible for disassociating Nietzsche’s name with the Nazi movement. His “Portable Nietzsche” is an excellent read; although, I do have to say, Nietzsche can be difficult to grasp – or, rather, extremely easy to misinterpret. The important thing is recognize that there is a consistent, cogent line of thought in his work. If you don’t hold onto that thought, he can seem wholly self-contradictory and nihilistic. When he speaks about destructions, deaths, etc., he rarely means it quite literally, but it should grow obvious that he is poetic (which is in line with his love of aesthetics, art, creation, etc.), and that he works must be interpreted less as treatises, less as essays, more as poetry. Let me know if there’s anything more specific you’re looking for.

Thanks dsystopiate. I’ll try and read it with an open and critical mind.