Though bodily and mental fitness are related in certain ways, we should guard against drawing too tight a causal connection between them. The relationship is complicated. Beethoven’s body gave out on precisely that capacity most closely associated with his aspirations for his mental work. His ninth symphony, composed when he had gone entirely deaf, is one of the greatest masterworks of all time.
Classicist David C. Young, who has written extensively on the Olympics and ancient views of sport, casts into question whether it was ever the Greek ideal to combine physical and intellectual excellence, arguing that ancient Greeks generally held both in high esteem but saw them as separate ideals to which different people could aspire, with significant daily time commitments.
Yes, well, that’s all fascinating, and by fascinating I mean tediously academic, but at tonight’s training session, we worked on my Olympic lifts (cleaned 175, snatched 105), and then had an impromptu discussion on the nature and purpose of art (music and painting in particular), the extent to which creativity is enhanced by discipline, and the good ol’ Golden Mean. Just another day of combining physical and mental excellence like it ain’t no thing.
Oh, dear. Weak, scrawny and resentful is no way to go through life, son.