Friday, January 31, 2014

January Meeting (Queer Mixology)

by Robert McRuer


Pink economies and pink ecologies flow through academia. Reading Robert McRuer's examination of this "unnatural" color, from the recently published Prismatic Ecologies (Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, ed.), the MATCH Reading Group drank in how heady substances "sticks to" and "accelerates" minds and bodies (McRuer 64).

"Since the commingling of red and violent is a theoretical impossibility," writes McRuer "pink in a certain sense is about as real as the famous pink elephants Dumbo sees after he accidentally imbibes absinth" (64). 

This commingling of unnatural colors, unnatural bodies (flying elephants), and unnatural states of mind bring McRuer to examine how pink marks and mobilizes the gay community. Pink constructs gayness, as gay marketing and tourism reproduce pink drinks, pink scents, and pink mists around the world.

The libations & pink-dollars of gay production fuel academia. Whether directly, through the critical intervention of gay colleagues, or indirectly, through shared cultural reservoirs, the university is awash in pink.


Contemplating the colors of unnaturally mixing, MATCH considered how absinth and its fellow spirits help theorists "stick" together and can propel the "acceleration" of ideas.

From wine hours to after-hour drinks, alcohol sponsors the official and unofficial meeting of minds across the academy. It was commented by one MATCH member that beyond what is spoken on conference panels and responded to during Q&A sessions, the real throw down of ideas usually happen at the bar once the schedules events of the day has died down. Tensions relaxed and elbows touching, challenges and collaborations in are often made over drinks.

Teetotaler and lust alike are conscious of the active material work that alcohol accomplishes for theory communities. Just as pink directs and chases gay bodies, whether or not they like it, the buzz that allows pink elephants to play around the academic community allow some bodies to feel unnaturally at home and others excluded from or trapped in a shared experience.


No two people see colors the exact same way, scientists tell us ( Between the differences in cones and rods in the eye, as well as variations in the brain, the sighted among us do not process light in any absolute fashion. Thus the pink that McRuer sees when he considers the Eau-Mo cologne bottle, may not be the same as the pink in my cotton candy cocktail (even if they measured at identical wave-lengths).

So too, no two people experience alcohol the exact same way. Whether drinks play across your tongue or around the room, alcohol produces an incalculable diversity of experiences for everyone it touches. Mixology reveals itself to be more like alchemy than an exact science. That is to say, it can be magical, demonic, transformative and explosive; making the stars spin widely across the sky at the same time as it brings us to gaze at them in new ways.

At this sticking point, the MATCH group began concocting a rogue session for the upcoming English Graduate Student Symposium, Post-ing, called Drunk Theory. Members will come together at a bar after the event has come to a close to share over drinks (of all sorts) the cultural and production of alcohol of various theoretical communities. Each person will speak on a drink of their choice and speak extemporaneously, flowing wherever the matter takes them and finding common sticking points.

For more on "Drunk Theory" please stay tuned!