Tarrying With The Negative

By: Randy Herring

The greatest strength of tarrying with the negative is that it is an intense practice of reflection upon that context in experience. It is from “that” whence change occurs; change which is positive in-and-for oneself and in general.

What I propose in this article is not to oppose the conventional rendering in exercise science of muscle contractions regarding the downward movement negative (eccentric) and the upward movement positive (concentric). What I propose is to render a different way of thinking about doing bodybuilding fitness.

It is from a philosophic point of view for the psychology of utilizing bodybuilding for fitness as a positive natural activity. Bodybuilding fitness is not something to be shunned at as negative because of the weight bearing resistance one must tarry with in addition to one’s body weight to get fit from using one’s energy (muscle) to increase one’s energy (expenditure).

We will see below that tarrying with the negative of natural gravity and one’s own body weight is positive in bodybuilding for fitness.

1. To linger or stay in a place.
linger, remain, rest, stay, stop, wait, loiter.

2. To be slow or late in coming, doing something, etc.
lag, dawdle, pause, dally, delay.

Affirming, Tarrying, & Transforming
The Negative To Something Positive

Applying natural gravity is affirming the negative and is the first negation to getting fit. Utilizing man-made gravity is tarrying with the negative and is the second negation to getting fit. Opposing both negations is transforming the negative of the first and second negations or negation of the negation, which yields positive results.

To me it is common sense but to others it is not.

“After all, I have nearly 30 years experience of tarrying with the negative when it comes to bodybuilding for fitness. What is common sense to me is that to get fit, to transform oneself, one must sweat, struggle, exert, even maybe bleed or in other words one must affirm the negative then tarry with it.”

It is rare that I meet people who actually affirm the negative and tarry with exertion, the pain, and the exhaustion that comes with getting fit. Those who do not affirm the negative are the majority who are just plain lazy to act on exercise to prompt a reaction in their body.

The majority lend themselves over to fatalism. They say, “I don’t want to gain bulk.” “I don’t want to sweat.” “I don’t want to hurt myself.” “I don’t like free weights.” “I don’t like that machine.” “I don’t… etc.”

What Is Fatalism?
Fatalism is, roughly, the view that the future is already set and therefore, that human deliberation and actions are pointless because things have to be the way they have to be.

One ancient argument, called the Idle Argument, went like this:

* If it is fated for you to recover from your illness, then you will recover whether you call a doctor or not.
* Likewise, if you are fated not to recover, you will not do so even if you call a doctor.
* So, calling a doctor makes no difference.

I have heard nearly all of the familiar, conditioned, and mechanical responses in refusing to exert any minute force to transform themselves to a higher level of fitness except only from within a psychological pretense of feeling good just being there in the gym but in actuality looking the same.

Re-Thinking Weight “Resistance” Training

Let us consider “the negation of the negation is positive” in applying and re-thinking the conventional definition in weight resistance training. Conventional thinking defines the downward movement negative and the upward movement positive. (Once again, as stated above, I am not referring to biological muscle contractions but the movement of gravity).

I propose that the negative should be applied to the upward movement whereas the positive should be applied to the downward movement. In the latter, one is both affirming the negative and tarrying with it, which is positive.

In the former, one is opposing the negative and in the process is transforming it into something positive. That is to say, the upward movement is a “negation only as against the [downward] positive” movement.1

Affirming the natural downward movement of first negation and tarrying with a non-natural matter (the man-made weights) of second negation when multiplied in opposition (the upward movement) is transformed into the positive for fitness results.

That is to say, the negation of the negation is the upward negative movement that one is negating in the first and second negations [multiplied], which transforms it (the upward negative movement) into something positive. And that is increased energy, increased strength, and better overall fitness.

Defamiliarizing To Grasp
A Higher Viewpoint

What is real is the actual movement in relation to gravity in weight training: the downward movement is positive, which comprises the first and second negations and the upward movement is negative, which multiplies the first and second negations transforming the upward negative movement positive.

The latter is in a relational contradiction of opposition to the former. Defamiliarizing oneself with ordinary thinking is grasping a higher viewpoint. In affirming the downward movement positive and the upward movement negative is to understand the true nature of the power of negativity is the positive.

The illustrations below might be helpful in explaining what I mean in the kind of language I have been using and the viewpoint I have been referencing. The illustrations demonstrate how to properly do a bench press.

Downward Or “Negative” Movement

Conventional or ordinary thinking defines the downward movement negative. However, there is nothing negative about it because it is the natural order of things, i.e., gravity. Therefore, it is a positive movement comprising of the first negation (what is natural) and the second negation (what is artificial) when speaking of weight training in this particular kind of language.

Upward Or “Positive” Movement

Conventional or ordinary thinking defines the upward movement positive. However, there is nothing positive about it because it is in opposition to the first negation and also the second negation, which reveals the motion itself as the negation of the negation.

Notwithstanding, when we consider the reason why we do this in weight training, which is to yield positive benefits to the body, the negation of the negation reveals itself positive.

The Natural Order Of Things Is Positive & Participating In It Is Positive

Natural gravity is a falling down to the ground motion. It is positive, yet it is the first negation to becoming better, faster, stronger, and fitter. We must affirm it. An external object such as man-made artificial weights adds greater weight to the first (natural) negation.

This now becomes the second negation. We must tarry with it. And we must overcome it to transform it into something positive. In my illustration that something positive is bodybuilding fitness. The former negation is natural, whereas the latter negation is artificial. Both when multiplied become the positive toward the goal for better health and fitness.

To relate bodybuilding fitness by opposing two negatives (one natural and the other artificial), I conclude, the positive arises when and only when negativity is directed not at the negative but at one’s initial efforts at negating it.2 Then and only then can negativity go on to become self-directed and self-related to create the positive.3

It is the power of the negative which is the creative element assuring the advance movement of something positive, which is one’s fitness. Bodybuilding, body-sculpting, weight training, weight bearing exercise, or whatever you may call it is freedom in the emergence of one’s fitness.

Working Higher Eccentric = Better Hypertrophy
Started by forum member S_F_H, what are Bodybuilding.com readers saying about eccentric workouts? [Read More!]
Conclusion On A Negative Note For The Majority

The majority or the herd are those who do not affirm the negative when it comes to getting fit, something positive. They are lazy good-for-nothings failing to act on exercise to prompt a reaction in their body to achieve fitness results.

This familiar consciousness correlates in general people not reacting to anything at all, not taking anything into themselves. They are people who are no longer alive and pulsating with the “energy of thought” and this leads to their own fatalism.

Fatalism is no longer taking anything at all, no longer receiving anything at all, no longer taking anything into oneself – no longer reacting to anything at all.

It is the fatalism of the courage to die. It is reduction of the metabolism, making it slow down, a kind of will to hibernation. To accept oneself as a fate, not to desire oneself “different” (e.g., not desiring to ‘tarry with the negative’) – in such conditions this is fatalism itself.4

Adapted From The Work Of Nietzsche, Friedrich.
Nietzche was a german philosopher who reasoned that Christianity’s emphasis on the afterlife makes its believers less able to cope with earthly life.

He argued that the ideal human, the ??bermensch, would be able to channel passions creatively instead of suppressing them. His written works include Beyond Good and Evil (1886) and Thus Spake Zarathustra (1883-1892).


1. Hegel, Science of Logic (A. V. Miller translation) p. 493.

2. Messinger, Eli. “The Power of Negativity.” Book Review. Science and Society. Spring 2004, Vol. 68, Issue 1 (pp. 123-125) p. 124.

3. Ibid.

4. Adapted from Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo, “Wise,” (R. J. Hollingdale translation) section 6.

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