I never expected to include a work like S01E10 in the Untitled Series becauseâ€”and this is giving away quite a bit about the identity of the scentâ€”I tend to be wary (with pretty good reason) of work by self-taught perfumers. I find this artist disconcerting. He strikes me as ridiculously talented, and as far as I can tell he came out of nowhere.
The other startling thing for me is that this is a work created at full tilt in what is in my view a risky school; the problem with Romantic works is that they tend, by definition, to be overblown, melodramatic. Romantic literatureâ€”early to mid-1800sâ€”and Romantic musicâ€”late 1800s to around the 1940â€”show the styleâ€™s strengths and weaknesses, the greatest of the weaknesses being, from the 21st century point of view, an earnest ingenuousness, a complete lack of cynicism. Cynicism is an endemic feature of turn-of-this-century culture and art. Given that the era is bookended by the highly corrupt Vietnam War and the mind-blowingly corrupt Iraq War, itâ€™s warranted. So how do you pull off Romanticism today?
By creating S01E10, it turns out. This is one of the greatest Byronesque beauties Iâ€™ve ever experienced. Windswept moors, cold rough seas, rocky cliffs tempest tossed, the genreâ€™s entire panoply of tropes with no irony in sight, and yet you buy it, not (not for an instant) despite yourself but with a lifting soul, courage renewed, and a sense of adventure. If Robert Louis Stevenson had done a celebrity scent, this would have been it.
Itâ€™s easy to knock off a discussion of the specs because theyâ€™re so good: persistence, diffusion, structure, stabilityâ€”all excellent. Simple. The aesthetics are extraordinarily coherent.
I should take this chance to remind us all how lucky we are. The wonderful thing about the artistic medium of scent is that it is closelyanalogous to the artistic medium of film: works done in it are, unlike works in paint or dance, highly reproducible and can be easily bought and taken home and experienced. Buy it.
E09 is the final episode of Season 1; Season 2 starts in September with S02E01.