Indieguy's post is indeed informative and good.
I am one of those people whose first experience of civet's fecal qualities was of alarmed fascination. I recorded my initial impressions here: http://www.basenotes.net/threads/268...Jicky-Question
I still stand by them, having since had a chance to smell it again.
Civet does usually smell of human waste, or of animal decay. I suspect that people not only sense these aspects variously, but also interpret their experiences of them differently. It has been argued that it has something to do with how they sharply strike the limbic system, bypassing conscious volition. But I cannot comment on that, not being a scientifician.
Pluran recently observed of the note's excessive starkness in Chanel's Cuir de Russie that now that the formulation has less of an obscuring veil of birch tar, it has acquired the savour of human saliva, and a fecal quality. I have not smelled the vintage elixir he praises, but I can confirm that this is the case with the present formulation. Yet I find that there is something mesmerising about it, and in what it permits to the overall fragrance. A hard, shimmering quality.
No, I am not a fetishist of the sort Indieguy peturbedly mentions. However, perhaps because of its reminiscence of animal rankness, civet really causes some part of me to Pay Attention. It is like smelling salts, and forces an involuntary response in me. Like fear of death, civet sharpens the mind wonderfully.
I could characterise my response as a startlement similar to slight pain. Whether it turns into distaste, confusion or pleasure depends on how the remainder of the fragrance is composed and interacts with it. To me, Jicky seems ill-balanced. But when the note is used well, my god, it is beautiful. Pain mingled with beauty, precisely akin to when, in listening to certain pieces of music, one thinks, 'Ah, this is so beautiful it hurts me to contemplate it' - but with the added realisation that the pain preceded the beauty, and has been transformed by it into a lens of poignancy.
I also think (you might suppose ludicrously) of Socrates' comment in Phaedo:
Socrates, sitting up on the couch, began to bend and rub his leg, saying, as he rubbed: "How singular is the thing called pleasure, and how curiously related to pain, which might be thought to be the opposite of it; for they never come to a man together, and yet he who pursues either of them is generally compelled to take the other. They are two, and yet they grow together out of one head or stem; and I cannot help thinking that if Aesop had noticed them, he would have made a fable about God trying to reconcile their strife, and when he could not, he fastened their heads together; and this is the reason why when one comes the other follows, as I find in my own case pleasure comes following after the pain in my leg, which was caused by the chain."
Similarly, my disarmed confusion at the decadent (in the sense of decaying) nature of civet changes after the first jagged moment (which is often repeated) into something else - something diametrically opposed, if the remainder of the fragrance is good enough to, so to speak, ease off the initial chain. With Jicky, the chain remains on to some degree; while with Cuir de Russie it falls off after a moment, leaving me, from sheer relief and delight, a little weak at the knees.
I cannot comment on ouds, my experience of them being too slight, but such are my current thoughts on civet.