Letter from the Editor
People like to be nostalgic about the past. They say cinema was better in the heyday of Old Hollywood or that contemporary literature has yet to produce a classic or that our collective morale has decayed or, as your father pulls an old record out of his stash, that music these days is all auto-tune and no talent. They may be right or they may be wrong, but their wistfulness is not unmerited; if tastes and preferences are formed in our youth, then the agent of our infectious nostalgia is simple: pop culture is particularly obsessed with its own past, hooked on its older, purer iterations. This sixth issue of Embodied, then, our “Throwback” issue, aims to explore this obsession, to bridge the past and the present and make two putatively incompatible things whole.
Marcel Proust once wrote that “Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.” When Embodied endeavored to spend this semester creating an issue that hearkened back to the past — the rise and fall of our foremost gastronomic vice, Chipotle, our favorite nostalgia-inducing albums, the fifteen-year history of the Tribeca Film Festival — we encountered this same sort of transmutation. Some things in our culture have aged like a fine wine, while other contemporaneous artifacts have not. We realized that the most effective way to execute a “throwback” issue was to modernize and to reimagine, to consider the arts and culture of yesteryear through our 21st century goggles.
Devyn Olin, our creative director, conceptualized and styled a photo-shoot that brought our favorite film heroines from the 1950s to the early aughts back to life. She procured clothing from many sources — the Embodied editorial board, friends and roommates, the sartorial buffet that is the East Village vintage scene — and captured the libertine spirits of femme fatales like Carmen Jones and Catherine Tramell.
Zianna Milito wrote about one of our favorite new book releases of the spring, Rebecca Traister’s All the Single Ladies, which charts the political ascent of America’s most empowered voting cohort today, unmarried women. Also in this issue, Nathaniel Nelson dove into the career of Richard Linklater, whose films, most notably the Before trilogy, have always considered the past and the present as inextricably linked, playing with idea of time, facing both its mystifying circularity and doleful reality.
In The View, the section of our magazine devoted to the opinions of Gallatin students, Annie Felix considered the existential crack-up of the Democratic Party in a piece called “Split at the Root.” She aims to understand the party’s two figureheads, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and to diagnose what seems to be the ideological schism that separates the Democratic electorate. The result is a think-piece that’s topical, impassioned and engaging.
Perhaps the silliest but most potent osmosis of the past and the present can be found in a piece called “Hashtag TBT,” where Becky Hughes imagined the social media accounts of historical figures like James Baldwin, Cleopatra and Alexander Graham Bell. Would they, too, have been addicted to Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, et al.? It’s hard to say, but as millennials, no one’s more fit than us to hypothesize.
- Jake Nevins