Whenever I am asked to speak publicly about the sense of smell, and why I find olfaction so compelling, I return to four elementary truths related to my experience in perfumery. Colored by alchemy, science and mystery they reappear with a self-affirming quality that provides comfort and inspiration.
I hope you will take the time to explore the role of the sense of smell in your life. Whether you are drawn to it as an art or a science, it's hard not to fall in love with it.
You Are the Vessel
Olfaction is about experience versus the kind of judgment that colors attachments to likes and dislikes. That is what makes the study of perfumes so compelling; it is a source of discovery every time you open the bottle. You may discover happiness or despair, but it's not about which feeling you experience; it is the experience itself that counts. The magic lies in the fact that the genie is not in the perfume; it is in you.
What Does Your Sense of Smell Mean to You?
The Case for the Connoisseurship of Smell
The Magic of Smell and Taste
The Olfactory Diary: A Tool for Developing Your Sense of Smell
Smell and Tell: Olfactory Writing Workshops
Anosmia Matters: Whether You Can Smell or Not
The image that accompanies this article was created by Seymour List. The woman in the painting is his wife Mae. List is 80+ and has been married to Mae for over 50 years. List is retired and uses his computer to make art. Rights revert back to Seymour List.
The day after this post was published The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting story about the importance of smell calisthenics. You can read about it here.