PUMP IRON by Bob Couch! A philosophical reflection by the Fitness Philosopher!
Bob Couch – Pump Iron: Is this the best song ever written?
Not to be confused with the 1977 Arnold S docu-drama "Pump-'ing' Iron." Rather it is a simple song whose lyrics are a summary of the benefits of weight training or what the Ancient Greeks called gymnastics. Here is my philosophical analysis of this song/gift that speaks a timeless message which is that all humans gotta "pump iron!" My thoughts are in brackets and bold.
Well working real hard I’m just a middle class man, working for a man that I can’t stand. Clearly a Marxist critique, through Herbert Marcuse and Ardent, of man as one dimensional and 'the worker', alienated from the fruits of his labour in post industrial technological society, left to toil endlessly like Sisyphus with no sense of accomplishment. Furthermore a Weberian critique of the modern work ethic and capitalist psychology of the 'boss'.
Sometimes it takes all I got to get me through the day. Demonstrating the suffering at the heart of a life in which human potentials have been subordinated to the utilitarian ends of production.
So when I get home about half past five, I need to do something that helps me unwind. After a full day of labour the worker is still 'wound up' since the energy was not grounded or released in the artificial labour which cannot fulfill the basic human need for physical accomplishment.
I need to do something that keeps me from going insane. Here we find Freud's critique in Civilization and its Discontents of human instinct being subordinated to human convention causing mass neurosis.
I need to pump iron. (analogous for getting back in touch with the basic natural elements) I need to push out another set. (he needs to be self determined and push on) I need to pump iron. I got to work off all this sweat. (curious line, while working out makes one sweat, this new sweat of working out acts like a baptism and cleansing of the body covered in the 'sweat' of toil. You see but working out my muscles I’m relaxing my mind and after an hour or two I’ll find, my whole outlook on life is shiny and new.(key line of the whole song. Working out muscles causes a 'state change' in the body on many levels. Phenomenologically there is a opening of the way we are in the world, and to quote Heidegegger's, Being and Time 'a mood of elation, alleviates the manifest burden of being." This new mood, that results from 'pumping iron' transforms the world we find ourselves thrown into, and where we previously saw barriers we now feel communion, and where we felt threatened before, we now can courageously march into the unknown!
Now it’s saturday morning and I want to sleep in, but the nextdoor neighbor’s dog is barking again. The wife and the kid been bugging me to go for a ride. But a week’s worth of work is piled up by now, and I’m expected to get it done somehow. Then I gotta find the time to do what they wanna do.(while at first you think he is shirking his family responsibilities, instead he is making a rational decision to go first transform his mood with pumping iron and then the family will all have a much better day!)
Instead I pump iron. I push out another set. I pump iron. I got to work off all this sweat. You see but working out my muscles I’m relaxing my mind and after an hour or two I’ll find, my whole outlook on life is shiny and new.
If life’s little worries are bringing you down, you might want to try this thing I found. I think it will do for you what it’s doing for me. (Here he is speaking of the paradox of the universal and the particular and that since it works for him as a human being, it may work for you too!)
One other thing that I ought to mention, working out your muscles you’ll be drawing attention from the opposite sex if you know what I mean. (no real explanation need here except to being a testament to human beings and our animal nature with basic instincts that still have powerful effects on our decision making to this day-an of course the most powerful is that of reproduction!)
You need to pump iron. You need to push out another set. You need to pump iron. You got to work off all this sweat. You see but working out your muscles you’re relaxing your mind and after an hour or two you’ll find, your whole outlook on life is shiny and new.
You see but working out my muscles I’m relaxing my mind and after an hour or two I’ll find, my whole outlook on life is shiny and new.