People like Arnold are always comparing and referring to bodybuilding as “art”, especially sculpting.

What does he really mean by this?

A piece of artwork or craft, say a sculpture or a chair, or even a piece of architecture, is the result or the mediation between the 2 worlds – immaterial realm of consciousness, and the material realm of physical reality (classic case of minds meeting objects).

When a sculptor carves a head out of a block of marble, he is imprinting his thoughts and consciousness and rendering them onto an otherwise formless, hard, cold, and completely material/physical object, giving it life and form and ideas.

Through this process, the concrete marble becomes less physical, as it “softens” and gets “melted” by the artist’s thoughts, making it more immaterial than it was before the carving took place. The artist’s consciousness on the other hand, through this dialectal process, becomes less immaterial, as it takes form in the material world and “hardens”…The two processes take place not only dialectically, by in a parallel fashion that simultaneously cancel each other out.

The subject and the object, the mind and the world mingle and “have sex”…giving birth to the art object. This is creativity at its fundamental level, and it is one reason why the creative process is analogous to reproduction.

Now, what do you make of bodybuilding? Can you, perhaps say something similar to that endeavor?

If human beings are dualistic creatures that embody both an immaterial mind/consciousness and a physical and material body, then what should, or can we make of a finely chiseled body? Is this person theoretically less or more material?

His body is now imprinted by his consciousness and takes a different shape and form because of that intentionality and will. So in a way, a bodybuilder’s body, despite the fact that it “hardens” as it becomes more muscular, also, paradoxically and ironically, becomes “softened” after its entanglement with consciousness.

And what about his mind? Is it “hardened” as a result because the thought and the idea of his ideal physique are all happening and taking place within his own being?

What’s different between the artist and the bodybuilder is that the artist acts ON the physical world, on objects apart from himself. But the bodybuilder acts ON HIMSELF. If the artist’s mind is “having sex” with the world, and thus producing an art object, then bodybuilding can be thought of as a conceptual (and alternate, or even the ultimate) form of self love and masturbation.

And if we are, after all, dualistic beings divided between mind and body, then perhaps the bodybuilder is, at least subjectively, more unified than the average person because the divider and the boundary between mind and body has shrunk, or even melted into Nothing.

The bodybuilder, despite the fact that he is getting bigger, is actually shrinking…Rendering himself into Nothingness.

So, I think bodybuilding is one good defense against the way a man continuously threatens to marginalizes himself with himself. He is now not a being inhabited by two separate realms, but more or less a single entity that operates in unison, as a feedback loop from top to bottom, and from bottom to top (from mind down to the body, and from the body up to the mind again).

In other words, during the process of bodybuilding, you take the body, internalizes it and stuffs it into the mind, and at the same time, in a parallel movement, your body “spits” out and externalize the mind so it can spread over and eat the body.