Monthly Musings: Justification, February 2017

A whole mishmash for blog readers in this post!

Upon self-reflection, a theme I have picked up on is reflexivity, spurred quite clearly by the comments from others on my blog posts. I make an intense effort to ensure utmost transparency and have quite clearly from time to time dedicated entire Monthly Musings posts to the gruelling task of grappling the slippery concept of justification. Successful or not, as long as I have openly delivered a discourse on the principles in which I stand for by stating them on and on again I have been, in some valid circular way (and as narrow in scope as it may be), justified in every single review of any scented stimuli on this very blog.

It is not my task as a serious critic to urge you to buy anything, but like the decanter to the wine, it is my job to express the oratory function of fragrance; to impose well-founded and self-founded values and hold a scent to that very account and see if it makes the cut. These necessary conditions are paramount. What is well-founded is found somewhere in abstract and objective non-physical space, and what is self-founded, as it would be, is shaped by me. It is my job to reach into objective space and bring it closer into grasp’s reach.

Warhol, Andy

Campbell’s Soup Cans, Andy Warhol, 1962

But what is a reviewer who doesn’t practice what he preaches? Plainly: a joke, … or perhaps in more sensitive terms, they’re ineffective and cheating themselves, diminishing the healthy moral fibre of a reviewer and all of the self-imposed qualities of superlative taste and the discretion of what is good taste.

And so on that train of thought, one final wine anecdote for you, reader, and hopefully you are not sick of them! I was staring at a 2008 Douro red in my laundry cupboard cellar: it’s time to drink it. The same bottle of wine peaks, the same perfume does not (by same, I am referring to a single bottle, and not a bottle purchased two years later used as a comparison. We know for a fact perfume changes, need I mention Rive Gauche or Opium?). This red wine has peaked, and if I wait any longer it begins to become a shadow of its former superlativeness.

It is this close parallel line of thought in that I do not see the appeal in hoarding perfume, for that is the mindset of a doomsday prepper, and I frankly hold a generally optimistic outlook for the future and at the same time prefer to live and look in the moment.

Despite this, there is one justifiable dogma to hoarding perfume, but if it gathers dust and doesn’t live an active life of use and rotation, then I fail to see the point of hoarding a scent that you deem to be in its prime. But if the scent is your holy grail, and you fear for its next iteration (or lack of!), then by all means, hoard away. This is how I look at myself as both a user and a reviewer, very much pertinent to my early stance: if you don’t wear it, there is no point in keeping it. Hoard selectively.

This attitude I hold for perfume cannot be transferred on the matter of my necktie collection. But I can escape this mild dilemma quite simply. I do not review neckties. I review scent, and I at all times wish to be hard on myself (for I am a reviewer).


Men’s Wear, John Brack, 1953

Moving into the specifics of blogging content, desiccation is a quality I discuss over and over on Olfactics, and in my mind it is a clear concept. The same applies for the quality of warmth in the ‘eau chaude’ style, the abstract and powerful widow-like blue of blue scents, and oily laquer-like effects. This extends to even more obvious qualities of fresh, smoky, …etc. And yet I am finding it harder to identify even more of these qualities. What else is out there?

I am asking such because I sprayed on Terre d’Hermes Parfum and was met with a clash of desiccated earth kissed by the sun and quenched with rain – and it is this effect of extremity that is met with clarity of a context that is so alluring and so enchanting. The greats do that, and that is why Phoenicia shook me, and Cuir Velours lulled me.

That’s not to say perfume cannot be good without context, for Vetiver Extraordinaire pings in my mind most immediately as a scent simply good in itself. We then begin to discuss its place on the continuum of perfumery, and how it references scents dotted all along the line – this certainly was the case for Vetiver Extraordinaire, and I was rather pleased with myself describing the scent in a near-mathematical sense: a perfect square [of vetiver].

A Bigger Splash 1967 by David Hockney born 1937

A Bigger Splash, David Hockney, 1967

Why this image? Well, I’m trying to make a splash!

A final word to share: I recently described Twitter as my pinboard for thoughts. If I can deliver my words and thoughts publicly and happen to also save those in a virtual permanence, and I can, I am rather pleased with myself!

More recently on twitter I have said the following:

“Dia Woman: Aldehyde from the orient.”

“Jubilation 25 (Femme) has the supreme power to connect with the æther on first application. A baseless chypre. Orgasmic.”

“Smelling vintage Guerlain’s links the vernacular of scents closer and closer. Vetiver EdC smells like Imperiale; L’Heure like Shalimar.”

#sotn Bond No. 9 Chinatown – Like a perfume set in wax. Demure yet exotic – all set within a familiar chypre theme with an aquatic surprise.”

“No. 18 #chanel is still offering me surprises. Today revealed fruity eaux de vie notes, enchanting!”

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