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The genesis of...

[ 2010-12-21 13:43]     字号 [] [] []  
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The genesis of...

Reader question:

Please explain “genesis”, as in: “The Genesis of Industrial America.”

My comments:

When people talk about “the genesis of” something, they’re addressing its origin.

You can see “genesis” shares the same root with the word “generate” – to create or produce. For example, people in present day America are waiting for more and fresh Federal initiatives to generate new jobs, having seen the Obama Administration fail to fundamentally revive the economy two years into the recession brought on by the subprime crisis.

Genesis, of course, is the first book of the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, which tells the creation of the world. Or Creation, in capital letter, signifying God’s work. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” and the Book of Genesis goes on to talk about Adam and Eve along with the apple and the snake in the Garden of Eden, later on Noah’s Arc, the great flood, etc and so forth.

Anyways, the Christian Bible has given rise to the common usage of the phrase and it means the very beginning of the formation of an idea, project, phenomenon.

Without further ado, here are two media examples:

1. Ioan Bowen Rees, poet, essayist, polemicist, mountaineer, internationalist, father to Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals and a White Robe Druid of the Gorsedd of Bards, who has died aged 70 was summed up by the TLS four years ago as “one of an old breed of highly educated, civilized public servants”.

A proud Welshman, Ioan’s roots were in the “mild grey well-built labyrinth of warm-hearted Dolgellau” - the little town under the shadow of Cader Idris where his father taught English at the King’s School. Ioan's mother had been one of the earliest students at the new university college, built from North Wales quarrymen’s subscriptions, in Bangor. The influence of his parents on Ioan was profound - not just culturally, but also in his recreational activities: “I remember the first time the hills became a pleasure for me was on the Bwlchy Rhiwgyr above Bontddu. As we arrived on top, my father began to recite Keats’s sonnet On first looking into Chapman’s Homer, and there in front of us was that skyline of the Lleyn Peninsula over the water, stretching down to Ynys Enlli. There came a magic that day which the Welsh hills have never lost for me.”

By a neat reversal those selfsame hills came under his professional protection through working for many years as county secretary then chief executive of Gwynedd county council. In that post he exercised a wise awareness of how the conflicting demands of visitors and local inhabitants might be reconciled, rather than having the interests of either group asserted to the detriment of the other. His natural inclination was to view people as indissociable from place, and to insist on the centrality of their voice in determining policies that might affect it. In this crucial understanding he rose majestically above the general level of environmental debate in Wales, conducted for the most part by English-retired-bourgeois-dominated voluntary sector conservation agencies.

The genesis of his philosophy of localism was in the tight-knit, intellectually engaged community where he grew up and his mother was active in conservation issues. About his own work in environmental protection - at times pursued with an informed diligence that won round initially sceptical local politicians - he wrote that “Almost to the end it was as if I had been programmed by my mother.”

- Ioan Bowen Rees, The Guardian, June 7, 1999.

2. The Guardian today publishes the first stills from a Luc Besson-directed movie which will be called The Lady, the name by which she is known by a Burmese population banned from saying her real name.

Aung San Suu Kyi was released from her latest period of house arrest by Burma’s generals in November, which meant Yeoh could meet the woman she is playing.

Yeoh told the Guardian: “The first thing we did is hug and I thought you are really skinny, man. One of the first things she said was ‘why doesn’t the BBC world service have more music?’

“You feel a real sense of calm when you're with her. She’s a very striking figure. She is so proud of her culture and the best way to show it is with dignity and elegance. She has a glow and an aura about her.”

The film will chart her remarkable journey from housewife bringing up her children in Oxford to taking on the power of Burma’s generals by becoming opposition leader.

It will build up to that awful choice she had to make between country and family when her husband, Michael Aris, was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Yeoh, who made her name in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was instrumental in getting Besson on board to direct, helping to set up a meeting with the producer Andy Harries – who made The Queen – and the French director at Cannes.

Besson said Aung San Suu Kyi was “more of a heroine than Joan of Arc” and he hoped the film would get her ongoing fight better known.

“It is the fight of a woman without any weapons, just her kindness and her mentality. She is very Gandhi like.

“She says we should have the right to decide our future, we should have the right to express ourselves. She is asking for things we all have and don’t even think about any more.

“How often in history do you have a person, a woman, who never curses, never steals anything, never does anything illegal and you put her under house arrest for 24 years, it is just insane.”

The film is a co-production between Besson’s Europacorp and Harries’s Left Bank Pictures and has been written by the novelist and screenwriter Rebecca Frayn – Harries’s wife and the daughter of Michael Frayn.

Harries said the genesis of the project goes back to the early 1990s when he and his wife visited Burma. “At the time Suu Kyi had just won the election but was under house arrest. It was an extraordinary experience for us. On the one hand, it is a stunningly beautiful country but on the other it is frightening – the austerity, the poverty, the sadness of the people. We weren’t really allowed to go anywhere and people were scared of talking to us. It left a long impression on both of us.”

- Aung San Suu Kyi’s tragic love and incredible life come to the big screen, Guardian.co.uk, December 19, 2010.



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.


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