PONTIN | Here We Come A-Caroling

Holiday music seems like the perfect place to start; Christmas caroling is a tradition that has been largely foregone in the name of mass-produced, chart-topping radio hits. These days, finding anything other than an Amazon package at your doorstep is typically an unwelcome sight — salespeople seeking to rope you into a knife-selling pyramid scheme, religious zealots looking to share their views on salvation or flyers from a local political representative urging their stance on the education budget. 

PONTIN | Goodnight Moon

What could be more peaceful and more innocent than the process of wishing goodnight to the very fixture of nighttime itself, without whom our night sky would remain stuck in a perpetual state of new moon? 

YANG | Yassification: Contestation of the Extremes and the Binaries

This experience of “yassifying” myself made me rethink what this internet trend reveals about our culture. While playfulness is core to the “yassification” memes, there’s nonetheless an eerie feeling of revealing the uncanny valley of our reality that’s not far removed from the simulated extremes.

PONTIN | From the Trenches

In something of a similar sense, trench warfare is a commonly discussed yet insufficiently explored fact of the conflict. Again, it is often mentioned only in the context of the far more innovative and intricate war technologies that would come to bear in subsequent altercations: nuclear bombs, radar and jet engines. Even when the trenches are given adequate attention, they are degraded as a strikingly inefficient and slow-moving means of making progress. The psychological anguish that festered within them, as well as the art spawned by these emotional swells, is rarely upheld as a worthy topic on its own. 

KUDVA DRISKELL | Marvel’s Blatant Militarism

Pentagon funding aside, let’s consider the basic plot of the vast majority of Marvel movies: an attractive superhero travels to another country or world to fight a horde of faceless CGI monsters. Because, you know, apparently we should think that enemies overseas aren’t people.

PONTIN | All Hallow’s Eve

More profoundly, though, Halloween prompts us to tap into something that lies much deeper in our consciousness, something tied to an inherent desire to be flexible in our definitions of who we are. Halloween is, at its core, a celebration of malleability and a testament to the joy of recharacterization, imagination and exploration. 

PONTIN | When Cartoons Aren’t Funny

Political cartoons were perhaps the most openly accessible form of sociopolitical commentary in their time, largely abandoning the requirements for highbrow education — or even mere literacy — that newspaper columns and longer form publications demanded of their readers.