Originally Posted by Brian Chambers
As RP and others have already mentioned, the introduction to the Turin/Sanchez book has some excellent things to say on this subject. The mere fact that you're coming at it from the perspective of analyzing music as art means you already innately understand. The frustrating part for those of us first starting out is that really understanding criticism (and eventually, I suppose, producing meaningful criticism) requires that you know what you're talking about. It definitely does not mean you can't enjoy it (just like with music), but to really understand deeply the common set of values that people use to judge fragrance requires considerable education.
This being an Internet forum, of course, you will find that many people are happy to respond to any call for critical opinion with "Aventus by CREED" and consider that a perfectly valid contribution.
You've made some excellent points. I agree that knowing what we are talking about is important, and must remain our goal to really communicate effectively, but I likewise hope that nobody feels like they can't contribute right away
, because I get some of the best criticism from the n00biest of n00bs *when they are being open and honest*.
One of the best things that has happened around here in the last couple of years has been the willingness of people to speak honestly about loving various categories of fragrances that often got chilly responses in the past - super-mainstream men's, cheapies, overly artsy fragrances, non-classic feminines, etc., etc. Likewise, when people feel that they can go against the hype on fragrances here, without having to defend themselves, discussion really rises to a meaningful level. I think this level of honesty is essential for valid criticism to emerge. In fact, I feel that (when we're not just asking what fragrance will get me laid
) we have some much better criticism lately, because people DO feel like they can speak honestly about fragrance. (Creed still being a bit iffy, I am forced to admit. However, we should be thankful that the days of the Pro-Creed Inquisition and the Anti-Creed Pogroms are quite behind us. Those were not the greatest of times.)
If I had to reduce all I have learned so far to one rule, it would be to report honestly what one experiences, and that includes a deep description of *why* something is appealing. Even if one doesn't really understand the "expert lingo" for a standard, a personal and honest expression is sometimes even more powerful - filled with feeling and nuance. This is why Diamondflame and I love those highly subjective reviews that go off the deep end in a whimsical or romantic way - they really provide multiple channels into the person's experience. Three cheers for Naed Nitram! But even somebody with no experience reviewing fragrance can say what a more experienced person would, and sometimes in a more valuable way. True, the n00b might take a paragraph, where the more experienced person would do it in a brilliant and memorable phrase - but there is a level of authenticity and honesty in the n00b's version that is compelling and useful. Some of my most valuable insight here was basically the work of some teenager describing something that then "clicked" for me. And when a newer poster has a way with words, then - damn it - to hell with experience! Dazzle me with honest metaphor, and screw the technical standards!
I really want to encourage the "n00bs" to not hold back! Learn, yes, but please don't be afraid to contribute your honest thoughts right now, when you feel them with all your heart. One may have to honestly admit "I think that lipstick-like note was iris", and after 10 posts of arguing, somebody with the facts will chime in that it's the synthetic iris note that perfumer Blah leBlah is known for, but that's OK. Admitting what we don't know is good. I have actually started to become much less specific in talking about citrus notes in fragrance, simply because the citrus components are almost always mixtures, and are not even completely natural. If I smell lemon, lime, bergamot, cedrat, or whatever, I'll say it, but if it's just "citrus", it's just "citrus".
Your honest thoughts are never wrong, and I for one want to hear them. I took pleasure in your honest thoughts about Aventus, and encourage you to keep it up.