Perfumes, Persons, and Poems. Perfumes as Poems, Part II: Counter-conjectures.
by, 16th November 2011 at 02:49 PM (1924 Views)
In my last post in this series, I boldly asserted the identity of perfumes and poems, offering twenty platitudes which I claimed to be true of both perfumes and poems. (see: [url]http://www.basenotes.net/blog_callback.php?b=2376[/url]) I was thinking along the lines of Leibniz' Law, according to which, in this case, if everything true about poems is true of perfumes, and everything true about perfumes is true of poems, then this should establish their identity!
I invited counterexamples to my “platitudes” (which were premises in the “argument” I advanced), and discovered that the most contentious claim I had made was [B]#11[/B]: [B][I][COLOR="red"]Great poems are not composed by committee.[/COLOR][/I][/B] However, astute fellow fragrance travelers stepped forward to reject not only the claim that great perfumes cannot be composed by committee, but also that great poems cannot be composed by committee. It appeared, therefore, that I was still on safe ground, and my proof remained unscathed. All that I really needed to do was to delete that “platitude,” which had turned out to be so far from being platitudinous that it was actually false of both poems and perfumes!
A less humble (or epistemologically exigent...) soul might at this point smugly proclaim victory in demonstrating once and for all that, in fact, perfumes really are poems, with all that that implies. Alas, over the course of the past month, the wheels have been whirring ever faster, and the more I think about this question, the more dubious the identity is seeming to me. Sure, there were nineteen identity platitudes, but that was only a tiny fraction of the infinitely many other possible statements yet to be examined! In what follows, I offer a list of ten Counter-conjectures, which I am not supposing are true but certainly suspecting might be:
[SIZE="4"][COLOR="blue"][B]Ten Counter-conjectures about Perfumes and Poems[/B][/COLOR][/SIZE]
[B][COLOR="red"]CC1[/COLOR][/B]: Perfumes are ingestible and therefore exhaustible. Poems are neither. TRUE or FALSE?
[B][COLOR="red"]CC2[/COLOR][/B]: Poems are archivable, even across hundreds or thousands of years. Perfumes, in contrast, are not archivable, and they are relatively ephemeral, at least compared to the poet's art. TRUE or FALSE?
[B][COLOR="red"]CC3[/COLOR][/B]: Most poets are unknown, but if they become renowned even posthumously, they may achieve immortality. (Emily Dickinson is one example.) Most perfumers, even those today who are world famous, will never achieve immortality because of the ephemeral and nonarchivable nature of their work, which makes it impossible for their creations to perdure and to be appreciated by more than a few generations. TRUE or FALSE?
[B][COLOR="red"]CC4[/COLOR][/B]: Everyone is potentially a poet, even if only a mediocre one (poetaster), because everyone uses language. Not everyone is a perfumer. TRUE or FALSE?
[B][COLOR="red"]CC5[/COLOR][/B]: Most perfumers earn their livelihood from creating perfumes. Most poets do not. TRUE or FALSE?
[B][COLOR="red"]CC6[/COLOR][/B]: Perfumers often become perfumers by family lineage (Creed, Guerlain, et al.). Poets are not usually the children of poets. TRUE or FALSE?
[B][COLOR="red"]CC7[/COLOR][/B]: Most perfumers work for other people/companies and therefore are constrained by their values (or the company's “guidelines”). When a perfumer begins to create solely for the promise of wealth, then he has become a hack. Most poets do not work for other people, but there is no real analogue to an industry hack in the case of poetry. TRUE or FALSE?
[B][COLOR="red"]CC8[/COLOR][/B]: Reviews of poems nearly never make explicit reference to details of the reader's historical circumstances (though interpretations are certainly influenced by them....). Reviews of perfumes often make explicit references to the wearer's subjective experience and associations. TRUE or FALSE?
[B][COLOR="red"]CC9[/COLOR][/B]: Faced with an unpleasant poem, one can simply close the book. Faced with an unpleasant perfume, one must either leave the room, take a bath, or ask the offending party (if nonidentical to the offended party...) to leave the room. TRUE or FALSE?
[B][COLOR="red"]CC10[/COLOR][/B]: Poetry criticism is a form of art criticism. Because we physical ingest perfumes (through our cells), perfume criticism is closer to food and wine criticism. TRUE or FALSE?
Now it is left to you, [B][COLOR="darkorchid"]O Fellow Fragrance Travelers[/COLOR][/B], to set me straight once again:
Are these conjectures in fact true? Or are they merely the conjurings of an overcaffeinated mind? Have I myself “succeeded” in undermining my very own quest to prove the equivalence of poems and perfumes by unraveling all of the progress I made to this point in proving my identity claim?
Any light which you may be able to shed on these never-more pressing questions will be met with abundant gratitude!!!