“Iron and Soul” by Henry Rollins

Iron and Soul is a survival game created by Bethesda Softworks. The players traverse the expansive world, gathering resources to build shelters, weapons and tools to survive in an alternate civilization where humanity has survived but been transformed into animal-like creatures.
The game was developed with blockchain technology that rewards players for their participation as well as providing them access to special items only available through this platform’s unique marketplace

“Iron and Soul” is a book written by Henry Rollins. It’s about the life of a man who has been through many trials and tribulations, but still manages to find hope in everything he does.

Muscular tattooed man in white shirt.

Note from the editor: Henry Rollins’ piece was first published in Details Magazine in 1994.

The Soul and the Iron

Henry Rollins contributed to this article.

Reinvention, in my opinion, is the definition of definition. To avoid following in your parents’ footsteps. Not to be like your peers. To be true to oneself.


I had no idea who I was when I was younger. All I was was a result of the terror and humiliation I had experienced. I’m afraid of my parents. Teachers calling me a “trash can” and telling me I’d be mowing lawns for a job humiliated me. And the genuine horror of my classmates. For the color of my skin and my size, I was threatened and beaten up. I was tiny and clumsy, and I didn’t rush home weeping, wondering why others teased me. I was all too aware of the situation. I was there to cause a ruckus. In athletics, I was mocked. It’s a spaz. I was decent at boxing, but only because the wrath that consumed me at all times of the day made me erratic and unpredictable. I battled with an unusual ferocity. I was regarded to be insane by the other lads.

I was always hating myself. As ridiculous as it may seem now, I wanted to speak like them, dress like them, and carry myself with the confidence that I wouldn’t get beaten up in the corridor between classes. Years went by, and I learned to hold everything within. I barely spoke to a couple of the lads in my class. There are more losers. Some of them are still among the most amazing individuals I’ve ever met. If you hang out with a person who’s had his head flushed a few times and treat him with respect, you’ll discover a lifelong companion. Even with pals, though, school was a drag. Teachers were harsh with me. They didn’t impress me either.

Then there was my adviser, Mr. Pepperman. He was a scary-looking Vietnam veteran with a strong build. In his class, no one ever spoke out of turn. Mr. P. pulled one of the kids off the ground and pinned him to the chalkboard. Mr. P. saw that I was out of shape and inquired whether I had ever worked out with weights on a Friday in October. No, I told him. He told me that I was going to go to Sears and buy a hundred-pound set of weights with some of the money I had saved. As I walked out of his office, I began to plan what I would say to him on Monday when he inquired about the weights I had decided not to purchase. Nonetheless, it made me feel unique. My father was never really concerned about anything. I got the weights on Saturday, but I couldn’t even get them to my mother’s vehicle. As he loaded them onto a dolly, an attendant laughed at me.

After school on Monday, I was summoned to Mr. P.’s office. He said that he would demonstrate how to exercise. When I wasn’t looking, he was going to put me on a program and start punching me in the solar plexus in the corridor. We’d know we were on the right track when I could take a punch. I was not allowed to look in the mirror or tell anybody at school what I was up to. He taught me five fundamental workouts at the gym. I paid more attention in this lesson than in any of my others. I didn’t want to squander this opportunity. That night, I went home and got straight to work.


Weeks passed, and Mr. P. would sometimes give me a shot and dump me in the corridor, scattering my books. The other kids were at a loss for words. Weeks went by, and I continued to add fresh weights to the bar. I could feel the strength inside my body increasing. It was palpable.

I was heading to class just before Christmas break when Mr. Pepperman came out of nowhere and shot me in the chest. I laughed and continued on my way. He stated I could now gaze in the mirror. When I came home, I raced to the restroom and yanked my shirt off. Not only did I see a body, but I also saw the shell that held my stomach and heart. My biceps were enlarging. My chest was well-defined. I had a strong feeling. It was the first time I recall feeling like I had a sense of self. I had accomplished something that no one could ever take away from me. You couldn’t say anything to me if you tried.

It took me years to realize how valuable the lessons I received from the Iron were. I used to believe it was my foe, that I was attempting to raise something that didn’t want to be lifted. I was mistaken. It’s the nicest thing the Iron can do for you when it doesn’t want to get off the mat. It wouldn’t teach you anything if it soared up and through the ceiling. That’s how the Iron communicates with you. It indicates that the substance you work with will cause you to resemble it. Working against something will always work against you.

It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I realized I had given myself a wonderful gift by working out. I learnt that nothing worthwhile comes without effort and some suffering. I learn more about myself when I complete a set that leaves me trembling. I know it can’t be as horrible as that exercise when things turn worse.

I used to battle the agony, but it finally dawned on me that suffering is not my adversary; it is my summons to greatness. When dealing with the Iron, however, one must be cautious in interpreting the discomfort. Ego is to blame for the majority of Iron injuries. I once spent a few weeks lifting weights that my body wasn’t ready for, then went months without lifting anything heavier than a fork. If you try to lift anything you aren’t ready for, the Iron will offer you a lesson in restraint and self-control.

I’ve never encountered a genuinely powerful person who lacked self-respect. I believe that a lot of inside and externally directed disdain masquerades as self-respect: the notion of lifting oneself by standing on someone else’s shoulders rather than doing it yourself. When I see men working out for aesthetic reasons, I see vanity exposing them in the worst manner possible, as cartoon characters, billboards expressing insecurity and unbalance. Character displays a person’s strength. It’s the difference between bouncers who make a living by intimidating people and Mr. Pepperman.


Strength does not necessarily equate to muscle mass. Kindness and sensitivity are virtues. Understanding that your power is both physical and emotional is a sign of strength. That it is a product of both the body and the intellect. And then there’s the heart.

Yukio Mishima said that if he was not powerful, he could not consider the thought of romance. Romance is such a powerful and overpowering desire that it can’t be sustained for long by a weak body. When I’m with the Iron, I have some of my most romantic ideas. I used to be over over heels in love with a lady. When the agony from a workout was coursing through my body, I thought of her the most.

Every fiber of my being yearned for her. So much so that sex was just a small part of what I wanted. It was the most passionate love I’d ever had, but she lived far away and I didn’t get to see her very frequently. Working out helped me cope with my loneliness in a healthy manner. Even now, when I work out, I like to listen to ballads.

I like to exercise by myself. It allows me to focus on the teachings that the Iron has in store for me. It’s always a good idea to learn more about yourself, and there’s no greater teacher than yourself. I’d learned how to live from the Iron. Life has the ability to drive you insane. It’s a marvel if you’re not nuts these days, with the way things are going. People have lost touch with their bodies. They’ve lost their wholeness.

I observe them transition from their desks to their automobiles, then to their suburban houses. They are continuously stressed, sleep poorly, and eat poorly. They’re also misbehaving. Their egos are inflated, and they get spurred by the prospect of a huge stroke. They are in desperate need of the Iron Mind.

I’ve merged meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength throughout the years. When the body is powerful, I believe the mind thinks strong ideas. My thinking deteriorates while I am away from the Iron. I’m wallowing in a deep funk. My intellect is turned off by my body.

Iron is the most effective antidepressant I’ve ever used. Strength is the most effective technique to combat weakness. It’s difficult to go back once the mind and body have been awakened to their actual potential.

The Iron will never deceive you. You may go outside and listen to all types of conversations, and you’ll be informed that you’re either a god or a complete jerk. You can always count on the Iron to give you the genuine thing. The Iron is the all-knowing perspective provider, the ultimate reference point. In the dead of night, it was always there, like a beacon. The Iron has proven to be my most trusted companion. It never scares out or flees from me. It’s possible that friends may come and leave. However, two hundred pounds remains two hundred pounds.


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The “Iron and Soul” is a book by Henry Rollins. The book tells the story of his life as a musician, activist, and writer. The protagonist in this novel is named John Henry Irons. He is an African-American living in New York who has to fight for his life after being framed for murder. Reference: the iron never lies t-shirt.

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