It has been a bizarre month for me – I experienced a sort of flatness, an uninspired lack of charge to engage in any sort of formalised fragrant writing. This made me ponder over the process of reviewing scent, forcing myself to look at fragrant writing as a concept.
However, it was rather fortunate in terms of my academic studies. The new semester of my philosophy major begun by looking strongly at the concept of concept itself – meaning, what defines concept? This has been a pivotal thought on my mind for about two months now, and that is achieving objectivity and a qualifiable standard in fragrance reviewing. The question: what is ‘x’? The answer: not so straight forward, but attemptable.
Some camps believe that hard definition provides the basis of the concept; defined. For example, according to this view it is necessary to understand the deepest essence of a concept, to indeed claim to understand that very concept.
I take a different route; a long path towards essence. That is, an understanding of concept doesn’t have to rely on a hard definition or giving an answer, but rather, a compresence of defined elements, attributes, and features which then provide the closest possible approximation of concept. So, rather than nitpicking between a handful of singular definitions towards a concept, for instance, what is music, holiness, lawfulness, or most pertinently, what is a good perfume? It is better to utilise all of these as a way of analysing concept, distilling these multiple ideas to find commonality and hence a general idea of concept through approximation. Perhaps hunting for specificity (as I was doing last month) is erroneous, but finding a specificity of the most general is more appropriate. So, it was rather fortuitous that my lectures in philosophy have dealt with these epistemological (theory of knowledge) questions because these are the very considerations that drive the quality of content on Olfactics.
The hunt for objectivity reaches a block when it arrives at the matter of relativity. ‘Value’ is that whose reality measures up to a normal and ideal standard. Therefore, value is objectively there to be discovered, appreciated, and possibly responded to by us. The very definition of value provides its own downfall.
A comment on the general practice of reviewing overall – I do not know how some individuals can publish reviews on a near daily basis. I think if I were to perform running commentaries that would be perfectly achievable, but analysis on a deep level is another matter altogether. Human cognition indeed has the power to recognise fine nuances delivered through the sense organs, yet I find that the practice of detecting those details and giving meaningful intellectual content requires a considerable amount of time. For that very reason I have not reviewed the enigmatic L’Heure Bleue or the strikingly concise brilliance of Mitsouko, you need to live with those.
Along those lines – never will I post a review in the interest of press release, that is totally untrue to the underpinnings of this blog; it is blind and false praise. A good review takes time, it needs to ferment. Everything clicks, but the real question is when it will click.
Perhaps that is an explanation for my flatness overall. Once I’ve justified my rationale in my mind (and now on pen and paper / keyboard and processor), it presents new considerations every time I even consider writing a review: simply, back to basic principles, can I give this scent the reverence it deserves and has its depths been uncovered?
On a lighter note, something struck me last month and has been stuck in my mind ever since. I passed a blotter sprayed with Goodsir’s Iris Cendre to an individual, and I had asked what he thought had added the softness to the composition. To my surprise, he said zucchini which is peculiar to hear in fragrant conversation, but he had a point. Of course, I was waiting for iris / orris to be uttered, but they never were.
What’s interesting however came a few weeks after that event, as I was chopping zucchini and eggplant. Not so much the zucchini, but the aroma of freshly sliced eggplant is an outstandingly soft earthy dew, with overtones of must, dried herbs and florals. Whether it was the mere power of suggestion or otherwise, I could have almost sworn that I found a similarity to the powdery and damp softness of the orris application in Iris Cendre. Perhaps the individual from earlier incorrectly recalled the smell of eggplants for zucchini, but regardless, it was a unique sense perception from someone who wouldn’t generally attempt to describe smells and was generally unaware that eggplant was not in the perfumer’s vernacular … Unless I am mistaken there.
I have generated a new (perhaps more aptly, refreshed) appreciation for Le Labo fragrances. Their Oud 27 is a resoundingly good oud, I must admit. I will also admit that Turin’s description of coitus interruptus grabbed my attention. I do like an animalic scent – Jicky, Musc Ravageur, Muscs Khoublai Khan, Absolu Pour Le Soir, but those four especially capture a sort of refined beast, alloyed with a very strong sense of refinement. Le Labo’s Oud 27 moves far away from any idea of that, lacking the respectful mid-base quality of herbs de Provence (Jicky), a clean white-washed freshness (Ravageur), cleanliness through spice (Muscs), and/or floralcy (Absolu) and just continues to load on the patchouli and woods atop of a shameless, and very good, synthetic civet and oud mixture. But Oud 27 is more than just a 20-minute backseat encounter, as it generates intrigue with a surprising hidden calmness amongst the suggestions of pudenda and synthetic risqué.
Photo from Fragrantica
Rose 31 has finally captured my attention, however as long as Declaration exists it is a pointless exercise. That being said, Rose 31 is rather beautiful but fails to reinvent the 1990s trend of ISO-E Super scents. Instead, it offers nothing different, and just another variation on the theme delivered many years later. Now, that is me presupposing that Rose 31 aimed at reinventing the category, and that is not true, but it is hard to see past that – or at least avoid that reference. For reinvention, see Terre d’Hermes.
Iris 39 is also a genius piece of work, capturing what is generally an iris bifurcation between cool and pastel hue. It captures both features very well, and at different times too. The cool grey of iris meets the warmer (but still cool) aspects of earthy patchouli, revolving around metallic effects. Even amongst this balancing act, the iris still manages to stay vibrant and alive. Superb.
Zegna’s new Musk Gold is a decent attempt at a good musk, however from first impressions it faces alarming problems. It is indeed properly stinky and raunchy, using a clever addition of black pepper and coriander seed to lift and support that musk. From certain angles it is disappointingly flat, too top note heavy that the base begins to suffer – stuck in confines dictated by the limits of that musk note. But, it is always suggestible to try, try again!
I finally got around to wearing Luten’s Daim Blond (for the whole day), which I enjoy very much. A suede succumbing to light, Daim Blond contains a medley of soft stone fruits which imbue tangible plushness to the floral leather category.
Prada’s Infusion d’Iris I have sampled a lot now. This ought to pass labelled as a predominantly white musk scent, given a clinical floral streak through a very pleasant iris.
A final note – writing these monthly posts have proved to (already) be rather enjoyable, and I hope you too, the reader, enjoy them. This is indeed the most delightful post of my rather flat month of August – for no reason other than I can express concerns in and for blogging on interpersonal and intrapersonal levels. As a form of catharsis, writing in this manner refreshes the blogging soul; a public pinboard for the up and coming, continuing (and painfully so) to be ultimately transparent! What you’ll continue to find is a commentary on cultural and social aspects under the guise of a perfume review.