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Philosopher Hero

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The Philosopher-Hero:

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 at peace, with himself and the world;

a poet who speaks 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 meets him remains unchanged.
He moves people to rise above the circumstance that traps them,

to regain the vision of life as
Benevolence, Enchantment, and Adventure.


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Above are slightly-edited words that Monart Pon wrote as part of a thread that was discussing the seventies series, "Kung Fu." I was moved to create a textual object from them that was attractive enough to be hung as a small "poster," and I confess that it was my hope that Monart would want to re-post it to Starship in its new form (though he was not aware of that desire). I am pleased that he has decided to share it at-large via the Web. I was moved to, in a manner of speaking, "enshrine" his words because, if one suspended speaking about the individual, Caine, by taking out direct references to him, and then changed the past tenses to present (present perfect?), one obtained a portrait of a very fine human being. I can vouch for this because I know such a man: A man who fits every word (he is not a martial artist, but he is eminently capable of taking care of himself), and to whom I silently dedicated the textual object that I was creating from my friend Monart's words. And, since I know this man, I know that these words are possible for real people, not for fictional characters only. If I knew Monart better, I'd probably find that I would say that I know two such men; for in order for Monart to have written his description in the first place, he would have to have an understanding of that of which he speaks. (And Monart probably knows some martial arts; but you'd have to ask him;-)

My goal for this object was to remove those words from a context in which they could easily have become lost forever; to pull them out and place them where they could be a motivation, an encouragement, and a statement of idealism. I am realist enough to know that we are not all capable of filling this bill, entirely. Not all of us are suited to be teachers or leaders. Some would have difficulty being protectors, and we certainly are not all gifted with the art of poetry. But I think that the remainder is within all our reaches. I think it is an embodiment of much that is Objectivist and much that is Starship, and it is certainly worth striving for in any case. Thank you, Monart.

Mary-Ann Agri
USA 2002
Jan 9, 2002


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"Kung Fu Caine"

Kung Fu Caine

Kung Fu Caine
"Kwai Chang Caine" from "Kung Fu",
starring David Carradine, 1973.
Photo by Ron Thai, Warner Bros.

From the Starship Forum <>
Original Message --------
Subject: [Starship_Forum] "Kung Fu Caine": Philosopher-Hero
Date: Sun, 06 Jan 2002 01:14:03 -0700
From: Monart Pon < >
Organization: Starship Aurora

As a side point on the utopianism thread, I wrote (1/03) about "Kung Fu" and "Caine":

<<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 anyone NOT like him?! Cain is a philosopher-hero, all alone, but who still defeats multitudinous bad guys. The only shame here is that someone in Hollywood doesn't do a remake as either a t'v' 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, as "'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.

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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [Starship_Forum] Re "Kung Fu Caine": Philosopher-Hero
Date: Sun, 06 Jan 2002 19:25:51 -0800 (PST)
From: Andre Zantonavitch < >

'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 unsavory incident.)

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.

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