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Through line? 主线

中国日报网 2019-08-13 11:50


Reader question:

Please explain “through line”, as in “poverty serving as the through line that connects these issues across generations.”

My comments:

From this sentence, I mean half-sentence, we understand that many issues in a time frame running through generations are discussed, but one thing in common is that in every issue, poverty is on center stage. Poverty plays a central role.

In other words, poverty is the main story. It is the common thread that connects all of the issues and all of the people involved.

“Through line” is an expression that is often used in, say, theater to describe the main story line or the central theme.

The main story line, that is, that runs like a piece of thread running through many holes of needles linking all the needles up and together.

Literally pass a piece of thread through 100 needles and you’ll instantly understand what “through line” means.

Don’t do it. I don’t want to bore you with this kind of exercise. In addition, I can imagine some impatient person getting all sweaty and agitated and upset after a while, especially if he or she doesn’t have a good eye sight and therefore has trouble passing thread through one needle hole, let alone 100.

So, don’t try it.

Or, on the other hand, maybe you should try it. Dull as it sounds, running a thread though a hundred needles may turn out to be quite a beneficial endeavor. Why, it may have a calming effect. It may produce meditative benefits.

I don’t know.

Well, anyways, “through line” is the figurative, metaphorical, proverbial, imaginary line that runs through various parts of something and links all the parts together.

Linking all the parts together, that is, and turning these different parts into a whole, a cohesive whole.

Here are media examples of “through line”:

1. I am reading and studying Antony and Cleopatra with an eye to directing it next summer (2014).

I’ve read it a few times with that aim in mind.

Shakespeare’s plays are not simple. Their themes are complex. For example, I do not believe King Lear is merely about power, but it is rather about the search for identity. Lear’s meeting with Edgar disguised as a mad man is pivotal in the play’s march from self-absorption to self-realization.

As I read Antony and Cleopatra, dear Jelly Friends, what scenes do you believe I should be paying attention to?

Where hides the through line or, as it is sometimes called, the spine of the play?

Is this play simply about eroticism and power? Or does something lie deeper?

- What is the through line of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra? By Hawaii Jake, Fluther.com, July 8, 2013.

2. As our nation grapples with yet another mass shooting we must look closely at why this hate-fueled violence is contaminating our society.

The social media postings of the alleged shooter provide a chilling, but unfortunately expected, answer.

They show an adherence to the antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jews are trying to destroy the white race through immigration – which they believe is “white genocide.”

The alleged shooter, Robert Bowers, reaffirmed his belief in this absurd conspiracy while receiving medical treatment after slaughtering 11 people and injuring others including four police officers. He said he “wanted all Jews to die” and also that “[Jews] were committing genocide to his people.”

In the case of this mass killing at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh — believed to be the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States – the alleged murderer is, once again, emerging as a man who was deeply steeped in the racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that run rampant on unchecked social media platforms such as Gab.

These conspiracy theories are perpetuated and elevated by the increasing amount of hateful rhetoric flying from the mouths, or keyboards, of a growing cast of characters, up to and including, President Trump.

The antisemitic “white genocide” conspiracy has been smuggled into wide circulation with terms like “globalists” and the constant vilification of George Soros. This includes a popular lie that Soros – a Holocaust survivor – was a Nazi. And just this past week several commentators on the mainstream right have insinuated Soros’ involvement in the migrant caravan.

This irrational fear that “the other” — minorities and people of color — will take the country away from whites is the through line connecting a spate of violence targeted at houses of worship across different religions in just the past six years.


3. Eventually, as with every NBA Draft, there will be a “re-draft” of the Class of 2019. That’s the irresistible exercise in hindsight from media outlets that rank a particular year’s prospects not on their projected value but on actual demonstrated value five, 10 or more seasons into their professional careers.

Some players will rise. Others will fall. “Bust” and “sleeper” tags will be dispersed accordingly. This team or GM will be lauded for an especially savvy selection, that one will be razzed for the quality player or players on whom it whiffed.

But the through line of the dreams-come-true event Thursday night at Barclays Center, the lone selection that will not or at least should not change, is Zion Williamson.

Williamson is the sure thing, the “can’t miss,” consensus No. 1 pick bound for the New Orleans Pelicans. He’s a 6-foot-7, 285-pound freshman from Duke whose comps aren’t merely established players currently in the NBA but some of the game’s legends.

So think Blake Griffin, sure. But also think LeBron James. And Charles Barkley.

And, for that matter, every other wide-body who’s ever played with muscles on muscles, above-the-rim explosiveness, balletic body control and an instantly recognizable game that’s as charismatic as it is freakish.

Yeah, awfully small subset.

“I’m looking forward to playing against everybody,” Williamson said soon after his selection. “I want to be the best. I feel I have to earn everybody’s respect.”

- Pelicans get their man: Zion Williamson brings franchise-changing potential to New Orleans, NBA.com, June 21, 2019.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)


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