On names and naming: Shaolin Ulysses

Shaolin Ulysses is a documentary for which John Zorn composed the soundtrack – which is all I know of it, not having seen the actual film.

But that name! I love it, I guess, because it suggests to me what Kung Fu could have been: tales relating the wandering, the lengthy trials, and the eventual return home of one rooted not in the Greek or Western tradition at all, but in the 5,000-year legacy of Chinese culture. For Scylla and Charybdis, read “anti-coolie laws” and “railroad work,” for Circe read “opium addiction.” (Maybe that was the intent all along?)

It turns out, of course, that this is not at all what the film is about…but oh well. It was all worth it to hear Min Xiao-Fen going toe-to-toe with Marc Ribot.

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