Re "Kung Fu Caine": Philosopher-Hero
- 'Kung Fu' has been so far off my radar screen
that I've forgotten many important points about
it. I'm curious as to why 'Nick at Night,' USA
Network, or SOMEBODY hasn't shown it in the past
10-12 years or so (if memory serves).
I think the intransigent but serene
philosopher-hero Cain was a wonderful example of
successful living in a hostile, cold, indifferent
environment. As Objectivists, this is OUR world,
and we clearly must find a way to make peace with
it, and yet still thrive.
Many years ago, David Carradine described his
personal philosophy rather vividly (if
inarticulately) as being "Deep in." This meant he
truly committed himself to certain things and
moments, by putting himself on the INSIDE of the
phenomenon. Unfortunately, it also resulted in
many scrapes with the law, and general personal
immorality at times. ("I wish I lived a little
better," he understated, after some particularly
His quietly world-famous t'v' series always
reminds me of Bertrand Russell's comment in the
early 1900s that in his opinion, the Chinese are
the ONLY naturally philosophical nation on earth.
The introspection and internal fury of
Confucianism/Taoism/Buddhism/Kung-Fu can be very
powerful and liberating in my opinion.
--- Monart Pon <monart@...> wrote:
> As a side point on the utopianism thread, I__________________________________________________
> wrote (1/03) about "Kung Fu" and
> <<I loved watching a TV series in the early
> 70's called "Kung Fu", about a
> Shaolin Buddhist priest, an orphaned son of an
> American father and a Chinese
> mother, who fled China after killing the
> emperor's nephew in defence of his
> teacher who was shot by the nephew. Kwai Chang
> Caine escaped to the American
> West of the late 1800's, pursued in the
> distance by the emperor's guards and
> bounty hunters. This was the setting. The magic
> of the show was Caine's
> Shaolin manner and posture as he encountered
> and encouraged people, in
> each episode, to seek and cherish the
> sacredness of life. His martial grace
> and power accentuated his equanimity and
> oneness with the world around him.
> (Have you or anyone else here seen this series?
> David Carradine was perfect
> for the role.)>>
> Andre Zantonavitch replied (1/04):
> > P.S. Now as to Monart's 'Kung Fu'...does
> > NOT like him?! Cain is a philosopher-hero,
> > alone, but who still defeats multitudinous
> > guys. The only shame here is that someone in
> > Hollywood doesn't do a remake as either a
> > show or movie.
> Yes, Caine the philosopher-hero, that's what he
> was: a teacher, a leader, a
> protector, and a simple man of calm intensity;
> a gentleman of truth, courage,
> and honor; a man in touch and in peace with
> himself and the world; a poet who
> spoke of harmony, wholeness, integrity,
> justice, freedom; a martial artist
> who overcomes forces of wickedness and
> stupidity with his mindful,
> effortlessly graceful Shaolin counter-force. No
> one who met him remained
> unchanged. He moved people to rise above the
> circumstance that traps them,
> to regain the vision of life as benevolence,
> enchantment, and adventure.
> The setting of Kung Fu in the near-mythic Old
> American West heightened the
> allegorical ambiance of Caine's quest for his
> roots, for his final at-one-ment
> with the universe.
> There are connections between Kung Fu Caine and
> starship: a historical one of
> which is the fact that the major actors of the
> then discontinued original
> Startrek series, including Shatner and Nimoy,
> each had guest roles on
> different episodes of Kung Fu. They fitted
> right in. After all, Startrek,
> as was first described by its creator, Gene
> Roddenberry, is "'Wagontrain'
> to the stars".
> Kung Fu played for three seasons, followed, in
> the 80's, by two TV movies. In
> the 90's, a sequel series had David Carradine
> again playing the role of Kwai
> Chang Caine, but this time as the grandson of
> the first Caine. "Kung Fu: The
> Legend Continues" is now set in modern, urban
> times. The descendent Caine
> teams up with his detective-son on police
> cases, while also teaching at his
> kungfu studio home -- not quite the same
> romantic world as was the original
> series. I was willing to watch only a few
> episodes, out of respect for the
> original magic. The only resemblance between
> the two series is Carradine,
> who was in his 50's by then.
> A theatrical remake of Kung Fu would be nearly
> as engrossing for me to watch
> as would be the Atlas Shrugged movie that's now
> struggling for realization.
> Do I recommend tracking down re-runs or
> recordings of Kung Fu? As much as,
> and, in some ways, maybe even more than I would
> for Startrek.
> Starship Aurora <http://www.starshipaurora.com>
> ~ * ~
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- Monart Pon wrote:
>Yes, Caine the philosopher-hero, that's what he was: a teacher, a leader, aLet us not forget that it was the great
>protector, and a simple man of calm intensity; a gentleman of truth,
>and honor; a man in touch and in peace with himself and the world; a poet
>spoke of harmony, wholeness, integrity, justice, freedom; a martial artist
>who overcomes forces of wickedness and stupidity with his mindful,
>effortlessly graceful Shaolin counter-force.
master and student of philosophy Bruce
Lee who created the concept for and sold
the idea of "Kung Fu" as a television
series. It was his intention to play
the role of Caine himself but network
executives decided American television
was not ready for a Chinese man to play
such a leading role. I am certain Lee's
college major in philosophy helped to
start the show off on the right foot.
It may be co-incidence but a friend of
mine saw Bruce Lee fight in Japan in the
late sixties. During the same series of
exhibitions the most impressive show was
given by a Shaolin priest who had never
fought in public before. He handily
defeated a Japanese favorite but was
disqualified for using moves not traditional
to the fighting form of the Japanese
favorite. The Japanese favorite was given
several blows in mid air which sent him to
the hospital with multiple broken bones.
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- My understanding is that several historical attempts at
objectivist/libertarian utopianism have taken place. There were
evidently a few Objectivist 'communes' around in the 1960s -- at
least according to my normally-reliable college professor. Some
wealthy libertarian in the 1970s also tried to create his own city-
state in the south Pacific on the unclaimed Minerva reefs (so-named
by him). But the mighty government of Tonga thwarted it with a single
small gunship. And libertarians in the 1970s apparently helped
engineer a coup nearby on the Vanuatu isles -- which was successful,
but which didn't result in anything like a free state ("Tax-Haven
Takeover!" screamed the frontpage headline in the old 'Los Angeles
Herald-Examiner'). And there may even be a few secret Galt's Gulches
hidden around somewhere.
All of this is fascinating to me, but I have very little information
on any of it. Any help here?
- Interesting tread here... "Kung Fu" is a long time fave of mine.
I curse my human imperfections, but I am unable to recall whether it
was Carradine in an interview (I am leaning towards this) or his
character on "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues" that mentions how much
inspiration came from the character of Spock. Maybe someone else on
here knows of this refence?
I know that in the original series Caine is looking for his American
past/family. In all the episodes/movies made, does he ever reach some
sort of completion of that quest? Or is that part of his tale still
- The following is from one of the numerous, and humorous, websites related
to Kung Fu Caine. (Episodes of the original series appears to be available
from Columbia House
This long link may be truncated; just copy the whole link to your
~ * ~
KUNG FU TOP TEN LISTS
Top Ten Things That Get Kwai Chang Caine In Trouble When He Comes To A
New Town (old version)
10) Defending the downtrodden
9) Asking for water in a Saloon
8) Trying to have philosophical discussions with guys who haven't
learned the alphabet yet
7) Sheriff having a bad day
5) Having one of those flashbacks at the wrong time
4) Things in town have been tense, mighty tense
3) A pretty girl
2) Dress code
And the number one thing that gets Kwai Chang Caine in Trouble when he
comes to a new town:
1) That darned "wanted" poster
Top Ten Stupid Things Big Dumb White Guys Would Say to Caine Before He
Kicked Their Butts
10) "He's just a skinny little china man."
9) "If I say you drink whiskey, you drink it."
8) "I can whup him easy, Pa."
7) "I'm gonna break you in two."
6) "I don't need a gun to take care of him."
5) "You just bought a whole heap of trouble, Chinee."
4) "You're worth ten thousand dollars alive."
3) "Let's see what's in the pouch."
2) "Yo Mama."
And the number one stupid thing big dumb white guys would say to
1) "I'm gonna make chop suey outta you."
- --- Monart Pon <monart@...> wrote:
> The following is from one of the numerous, and<http://www.muppetlabs.com/~davidj/tnt/tntfu.htm>
> humorous, websites related
> to Kung Fu Caine. > KUNG FU TOP TEN LISTS
>This brings back great memories. This t'v' show
> Top Ten Things That Get Kwai Chang Caine In
> Trouble When He Comes To A
> New Town (old version)
> 10) Defending the downtrodden
> 9) Asking for water in a Saloon
> 8) Trying to have philosophical discussions
> with guys who haven't
> learned the alphabet yet
> 7) Sheriff having a bad day
> 6) Orphans
> 5) Having one of those flashbacks at the wrong
> 4) Things in town have been tense, mighty tense
> 3) A pretty girl
> 2) Dress code
> And the number one thing that gets Kwai Chang
> Caine in Trouble when he
> comes to a new town:
> 1) That darned "wanted" poster
> Top Ten Stupid Things Big Dumb White Guys Would
> Say to Caine Before He
> Kicked Their Butts
> 10) "He's just a skinny little china man."
> 9) "If I say you drink whiskey, you drink it."
> 8) "I can whup him easy, Pa."
> 7) "I'm gonna break you in two."
> 6) "I don't need a gun to take care of him."
> 5) "You just bought a whole heap of trouble,
> 4) "You're worth ten thousand dollars alive."
> 3) "Let's see what's in the pouch."
> 2) "Yo Mama."
> And the number one stupid thing big dumb white
> guys would say to
> 1) "I'm gonna make chop suey outta you."
is part of our collective Western mythos. The
lists above are also very funny. An article I
read about 15 years ago (in 'Playboy' or 'Rolling
Stone' or some such) pointed out that "altho'
Caine practiced a version of a philosophy of
non-violence, in virtually EVERY SHOW he ended up
'non-violently' kicking the shit out of four or
five heavy-set cowboys."
Good for him! Still, he could have -- and often
should have -- done more. This jives with my own
views on the little-known concept in Objectivist
circles of REVENGE. No-one admits or understands
it nowadays -- in our highly Christian-influenced
Objectivist world -- but often enough, revenge is
virtuous. It isn't just sweet to do and watch on
t'v' -- it's frequently a moral blessing,
requirement, and IMPERATIVE. Objectivists are
rather niave and foolish when they think about
all this -- assuming they think about it at all.
It isn't "malevolent" to get some nice payback
and cosmic equality, if the act is just. And the
great Christian/Objectivist ideal of "being above
it all" or "not wanting to sink to THEIR level"
is quite wrong.
We all ought to take a page out Ayn Rand's
beloved Mickey Spillane books. Even Kwai Chang
Caine could learn a thing or two from Mike
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- On Fri, 1 Feb 2002 19:42:54 -0800 (PST)
Andre Zantonavitch <zantonavitch@...> wrote:
>After the settlement of Iceland, near the end of the first millenium CE, the republic had no executive. The settlers had come from Norway, fleeing an increasingly-centralized monarchy. They created the Althing, with representatives from the four regions of the island. The Althing served as both legislature and judiciary, including appeals from the four regional Things. It was very comparable to the system of government of the Presbyterian Churches.
> Good for him! Still, he could have -- and often
> should have -- done more. This jives with my own
> views on the little-known concept in Objectivist
> circles of REVENGE. No-one admits or understands
> it nowadays -- in our highly Christian-influenced
> Objectivist world -- but often enough, revenge is
> virtuous. It isn't just sweet to do and watch on
> t'v' -- it's frequently a moral blessing,
> requirement, and IMPERATIVE. Objectivists are
> rather niave and foolish when they think about
> all this -- assuming they think about it at all.
> It isn't "malevolent" to get some nice payback
> and cosmic equality, if the act is just. And the
> great Christian/Objectivist ideal of "being above
> it all" or "not wanting to sink to THEIR level"
> is quite wrong.
> We all ought to take a page out Ayn Rand's
> beloved Mickey Spillane books. Even Kwai Chang
> Caine could learn a thing or two from Mike
> Andre Z'
The Althing had no enforcement powers, since there was no executive. Compensation could be ordered, but it was up to the victor and his kinsmen to collect it. The social order depended on the support of the people to carry out its legal declarations.
Personal revenge was considered a legitimate means of social equalization, but was also subject to the rules of compensation. For example, if you kill my brother, I am expected to kill you in response, but I still have to pay compensation to your widow for her loss. There was a social restraint on revenge as well, since families didn't want to be ruined by the effects of a feud.
I suggest the reading of the Icelandic sagas for a social pattern based on revenge and compensation as a judicial system. Here is a link to some online versions: http://www.midhnottsol.org/lore/main.html