Share it

Recently I read this, and its major point left me befuddled. Why would you ask people who are not into something their impressions of it? The words here are very important. The poll was done of people not interested in fragrance, not people who like fragrance but can’t afford it, not people who hadn’t considered it but enjoyed olfactory sensations, not people who wanted to get into fragrance but couldn’t for some other reason. In other words, the poll surveyed people who didn’t care about the subject matter. These people are the kind that don’t make it into audience considerations because they have zero interest in the subject.

So what would you get from such people? They would not have the interest, the vocabulary, nor the mental framework to describe well what they are thinking. This is not to require that anyone be interested in fragrance, mind you, but only to make the point that it takes effort to appreciate anything. You don’t wake up some summer morn and instantly are able to appreciate everything about a work by Bach. No. You must listen, study, and train your ear. Of course, you would be drawn to it by simply hearing it; music does grip you first. However, its richness and its subtleties would only yield themselves after the aforementioned study.

People uninterested in fragrances not only show no interest in the subject but are not entranced or motivated by the language of scent. Does this make them defective human beings? No, but a pattern is developing here.

Sheer ignorance of fragrance is no crime; we all begin ignorant. However, you don’t have to go broke to experience even high-end perfumes (except for a very few idiot companies that don’t make samples available). I purchase samples and test fragrances in stores, but I have bought the occasional full bottle blindly. Also, the experiences of others are available for free, and most people in the olfactory community are friendly and kind. Parfumo is a prime example. You can always ask what a note smells like, or find out from other people who have sampled the note. The experiences of others can guide you and their advice is essentially limitless. I could not tell you how many fragrances have intrigued me based on the experiences of others who sampled them.

If you are ignorant of fragrances, there’s so little hurdle in gaining knowledge that to insinuate that the barriers are too high is risible. I found learning about this world enjoyable and not too difficult. I did find some fragrances that I detested, but that’s been a small part of my experience, and even that was not without benefit. I learned that I just can’t purchase fragrances of certain notes or from certain houses. Also I learned whose experiences and reviews I could trust. In short, I discovered.

Should fragrances be made more accessible? I’m not sure how they could be. Already magazines feature free samples and perfume companies create ads, so even the ability to appreciate language is no barrier. Yet the article takes up language as a barrier. However, given that the author used the written medium to complain about the description of fragrance, her complaint rings hollow; instead it generates a rather unfavorable impression of her. Also, the undergirding assumptions prove alarming. Why must any particular site pander to you? If you don’t like the experience of store #1, choose a different store. Why complain that Brahms is not Taylor Swift? Why demand it be so? The inescapable conclusions are again disfavorable to the author.

I do not want the entire world turned into plastic, asphalt, and fast food. No thank you. Perfume, especially niche perfume, is an ephemeral art. It does not and cannot last. It is like life then — never cheapen it, but savor every fleeting moment.