About those reviews...
by, 16th June 2014 at 04:53 AM (3416 Views)
For better or worse, I have decided to reinstate what remain of the 1,200-odd reviews which I originally wrote between 2007 and 2012 under the usernames “Vibert” (too pretentious!) and “Off-Scenter,” and then withdrew from the Basenotes Directory some two years ago now. Old-timers on Basenotes will recall that the reviews were withdrawn on one previous occasion – in that case, it was in order to re-edit the entire corpus once the review editing feature was introduced to the Basenotes Directory. My motives for the second withdrawal are not fit for discussion in a public forum, but I will say that when I removed the reviews from the Directory, I did my best to destroy all of the original text. The surviving reviews have been recovered from an old external backup drive, in the form of a few large archived HTML files, each containing hundreds of un-indexed individual reviews. I estimate that between 1,000 and 1,100 of the original reviews will eventually be recoverable.
In a world where Patou pour Homme and Yohji Homme can be reissued, I thought it somehow fitting that I “reissue” the withdrawn "Vibert" and "Off-Scenter" reviews. I had at first intended to re-post the reviews en masse, as quickly as possible, but in deference to current reviewers, I think I will limit myself to fifteen or twenty at a time, so as not to clog the bandwidth on the “Latest Reviews” pages. If it were possible to reinsert the reviews to their original chronological positions, deep under each fragrance heading in the Basenotes Directory, rest assured, I would do so. As it is, I will be happy to see them settle underneath the strata of newer reviews as today’s talented Basenotes reviewers continue to add their contributions.
I write about fragrance from the standpoint of an enthusiastic amateur. While I have an academic background in natural sciences (including organic chemistry and neurochemistry,) I am neither a perfumer nor an analytical chemist by profession, but a landscape architect and horticultural writer. My description of any given scent is based simply on the notes and accords I can smell and recognize. Floral and botanical notes are familiar to me from frequent exposure, and as an avid amateur chef, I recognize the contents of the spice cabinet in composed fragrances as well. I have, in addition, gone to the trouble of studying the fragrance note and aromachemical sample collections available to amateur perfumers/perfumistas, so as to familiarize myself with some of the more common or important perfumery materials.
The reviews being re-posted represent five years of work, and hence reflect evolving sensibilities. They vary in quality, as any unedited collection might, and in length, from pithy one-liners to extended meditations. In re-editing the reviews, I have opted for correcting any factual, grammatical, or stylistic errors I discover, while leaving the original spirit of each piece as intact as possible – without regard as to whether my opinion may have altered in the intervening years.
Over the years, many have objected to these reviews, often vehemently, and in public: “They’re too short!” “They’re too long!” “He said my favorite perfume smells like pooh!” “He hates designer scents!” “He hates niche scents!” “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about!” To these criticisms I say: “All true!” Especially perhaps the last.
My advice? If you don’t like the reviews, don’t read them. Nobody’s going to force you to.* I can assure you that I did not write upwards of 1,000 fragrance reviews in order to win the unanimous approval of Basenotes readers. I did it largely to amuse myself. If somebody else derives pleasure from them as well, all the better. If they are an irritant to others, so be it - they are surely a trivial irritant at worst. I envy anyone who has nothing more grievous to complain about in life than my silly little fragrance reviews.
I may experiment with blogging on fragrance topics that interest me from time to time, but for now I will concentrate on re-editing and re-posting the old reviews. Once that project is completed, I may turn my attention to the two-dozen odd fragrance samples sitting in my desk drawer, awaiting trial and review.
Finally, to any who may have felt injured or insulted, either by the withdrawal of the reviews, or by their reinstatement, I offer my sincere apologies.
Way Off Scenter (a.k.a. “Off-Scenter,” a.k.a. “Vibert”)
* Though the image of some hostile Basenotes member, eyes pried open ŕ la A Clockwork Orange, in front of an endlessly cycling display of these reviews, fills me with vindictive glee…Mwahahahahah!
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