I agree that this thing has not gone off perfectly. In fact, I think that a hiatus may be useful just in offering the chance to recalibrate. There are a lot of risks in this first large-scale sniff event by Chandler, and rediscovering the reality of maceration, etc., seems to be one of them.
But there are even more issues with perfume as art. I am fully convinced of the following things:
- Perfume is art that changes more easily than many - that requires not just restoration, but re-creation, to exist.
- It is possible for artistically significant aspects to fade, disappear, or not have yet come into existence.
- All viewers of the art are astigmatic to a very high degree.
- Continuing the analogy, partial color-blindness and wavelength-dependent photosensitivity are the norm.
- Interestingly, it almost seems like we see each other's sensory defects more easily than we see our own.
- The language of the sense is poorly developed, and the application of the language of the arts suffers because of it.
- The assertion that the standard chronology of art history applies to fragrance is highly plausible, but I would like to see more and more proof. That proof will arise by consensus of freely diverging opinions. We already see diverging opinions about interpretation of works in that context. VERY GOOD. Otherwise, it risks a lack of rigor.
- The role of components is not strictly analogous to those used in the visual arts. Chandler has rightfully dragged us away from reducing things to a chronological laundry list of notes and components. However, the odors of individual components are intrinsically useful, either as language constructs themselves, or in deducing better language constructs. Beyond their mathematically constructive utility as small vectors, they are more than just paint colors - they are patterns in themselves, and they interact to a huge degree in ways that are partially determined by their own natures. Higher constructs cannot be discussed without speaking about the parts - at least, not with any rigor. To borrow from Chanel: "Inevitable."
- Spatial and geometric analogies are useful in fragrance, but they are arbitrary, and we need to be careful about using them to communicate, because not only are they not "real" - they are not even canonical in any valid way. Temporal concepts are more realistic, but even those are readily distorted in going to language, and must be used carefully.
- The beauty of fragrance is highly dependent upon shared experience of the sense, and also upon previous memories. This is why metaphor works so well - when both ends have the key - as a communication medium when talking about the beauty
of scent, but not about it's construction. Borrowing from a conversation that I had with Pascal Gaurin, it is more useful to describe something as having the odor of a particular spice, than to say it smells like Grandma's kitchen. Both perfumers and perfumistas can readily see the truth of that statement. However
, who among us has not "gotten" the beauty of a scent when a metaphor was presented to us? Who among us has not been in awe of some of Luca Turin's brilliant olfactory descriptions of certain masterpieces? Marketing, critics, and the "perfume lover" in us, all see the importance and utility of communication by such means, because metaphor encapsulates multiple nuances that are otherwise difficult to encode in the language, much less in a compact way. And I will argue that these shared, complex descriptions which transmit by simple yet inexact phraseology, may actually be a remarkably compact and yet more precise mathematical "fit" of the beauty of fragrance, than what we can do with arbitrary visualizations, translated into words. I almost want to congratulate marketing for their rigor, which in retrospect seems greater than any description of "roundness" or "brightness" that we can muster, no matter how well-communicated or brilliantly worded.
Summing up, I feel that this project has been incredibly worthwhile - not so much for agreeing with Chandler, but in beginning a fascinating and important conversation. He's lighting a spark - and I'm thrilled that it seems to be catching. I'm also looking forward to the museum opening - HUGELY.