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  1. #1

    Default Perfume and the memory of war

    An article for your reading pleasure:

    http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/c...rom=blog_last3

    This got me thinking. Have any perfumes been influenced by the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf or Iraq war ?

    I don't agree with the parting words though :

    "When those of us who will survive the coming decades look back, what will be the scent we associate with these last ephemeral years?
    Fantasy and Curious "by" Britney Spears, perhaps. And Heiress and Paris Hilton "by" Paris Hilton, perhaps also. Fruity, sweet, without staying power, "girly."
    Unserious.
    Unwomanly.
    Uncivilized."

    Despite mass commercialization, the 80, 90s, and 00's have introduced their fair share of incredible fragrances.
    Last edited by zztopp; 27th September 2007 at 06:37 AM.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Perfume and the memory of war

    A great essay, but she is awfully pessimistic isn't she?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Perfume and the memory of war

    Her thesis is rather bold, but this sure is a number of notches above Burr's fluff. Wish there was more perfume writing with a serious cultural history background, such as this. I'd like to read something about the relationship between Francois Coty's perfumes and his drift from socialism to reactionary proto-faschism.
    My Wardrobe
    II est de forts parfums pour qui toute matière/Est poreuse. On dirait qu'ils pénètrent le verre.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Perfume and the memory of war

    Quote Originally Posted by the_good_life View Post
    Her thesis is rather bold, but this sure is a number of notches above Burr's fluff.
    If perfume is, as Turin states, portable intelligence, then Ernest Beaux was a displaced person creating his predicament in a bottle.
    Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 27th September 2007 at 05:14 PM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Perfume and the memory of war

    Quote Originally Posted by the_good_life View Post
    Her thesis is rather bold, but this sure is a number of notches above Burr's fluff. Wish there was more perfume writing with a serious cultural history background, such as this. I'd like to read something about the relationship between Francois Coty's perfumes and his drift from socialism to reactionary proto-faschism.
    T,
    I agree! While it's fun to find out what chicks dig, and have top-five lists and other ephemera, I am starved for that kind of brain-food. It gets you thinking, even if some of the extrapolations might be extreme. I'm glad to see that others also want to see perfume in a larger context. We're clearly a minority.

    I made a post once that alluded to history, and someone immediately contradicted it. I had been referring to hundreds of years, and when I read between the lines of his post, I realized that he was referring to 10-20 years, and on his terms, he was right.

    ZZ, thanks for pointing that out.

    Cheers, Dave

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Perfume and the memory of war

    I beg to differ. I was getting seasick reading the essay. I'll stick with the ones in the Guardian. There's a beginning, middle and an end.

    What was the point again?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Perfume and the memory of war

    Quote Originally Posted by fredricktoo View Post
    ...What was the point again?
    I asked myself that too!
    Last edited by narcus; 27th September 2007 at 04:02 PM.
    'Il mondo dei profumi è un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Perfume and the memory of war

    Quote Originally Posted by fredricktoo View Post
    I beg to differ. I was getting seasick reading the essay. I'll stick with the ones in the Guardian. There's a beginning, middle and an end.

    What was the point again?
    LoL, perhaps reading this essay was like going through an entire season of The Wire.
    -

  9. #9
    Mattybumpkin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perfume and the memory of war

    I guess I am the simple one.......all I want to do is smell good!
    "I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best." - Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

  10. #10

    Default Re: Perfume and the memory of war

    Quote Originally Posted by fredricktoo View Post
    I beg to differ. I was getting seasick reading the essay. I'll stick with the ones in the Guardian. There's a beginning, middle and an end.

    What was the point again?
    The main point was that the great perfumes of the 1920s & 1930 encapsulate and comment on the beauty and brutal tragedy of the failed civilization that was Europe. Which is hardly your typical approach to interpeting luxury goods. Her take on the meaning of Djedi was quite convincing, I thought, and I would really like to smell this now.
    The approach of tracing perfume creations to the collective trauma of WWI reminds me a bit of Modris Ekstein's great book The Rites of Spring. The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age, which argues that the modernist aesthetic was a product of, and intimately related to, the savagery and trauma of WWI.
    Last edited by the_good_life; 27th September 2007 at 06:25 PM.
    My Wardrobe
    II est de forts parfums pour qui toute matière/Est poreuse. On dirait qu'ils pénètrent le verre.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Perfume and the memory of war

    Quote Originally Posted by the_good_life View Post
    The approach of tracing perfume creations to the collective trauma of WWI reminds me a bit of Modris Ekstein's great book The Rites of Spring. The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age, which argues that the modernist aesthetic was a product of, and intimately related to, the savagery and trauma of WWI.
    This is officially my next read. Thanks good_life!
    You are not your perfume.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Perfume and the memory of war

    Quote Originally Posted by the_good_life View Post
    The approach of tracing perfume creations to the collective trauma of WWI reminds me a bit of Modris Ekstein's great book The Rites of Spring. The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age, which argues that the modernist aesthetic was a product of, and intimately related to, the savagery and trauma of WWI.
    For an interesting/contrarian take on the nature and origins of war try Lewis Mumford's Technics and Human Development: The Myth of the Machine. According to Mumford the "Modern Age" has been around since ancient Egypt.
    Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 27th September 2007 at 09:12 PM.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Perfume and the memory of war

    Quote Originally Posted by the_good_life View Post
    The main point was that the great perfumes of the 1920s & 1930 encapsulate and comment on the beauty and brutal tragedy of the failed civilization that was Europe. Which is hardly your typical approach to interpeting luxury goods. ,,,,,, snippage
    Are you seriously asking me to believe that the essayist in question is a decent writer?
    On what par would you put her, say compared to American or British essayists?
    I had no trouble understanding the piece. I thought the writing was sophmoric and not worth a serious readers time.
    She certainly seems to take herself awfully seriously.
    The piece ended, and not a moment too soon, but the last lines make me question her sanity.
    We can discuss this further in PM's but I have a question, why France as far as fragrance genius at that time?

  14. #14

    Default Re: Perfume and the memory of war

    From the point of view of composition, this does not have the stylisic unity of an essay - because it's a blog post, whole different genre IMO. There are those little educational asides about European history, Russian culture etc. which assume an internet readerhsip with very different levels of education. The argument, however, is presented in logically sequenced paragraphs and I think it's an interesting one. I don't agree with her view of the early 21st century, guess she read too much Spengler in her WWI research (The Decline of the West). That doesn't invalidate her argument about post WWI perfume, though. Anyway, I wish more of my students would do what's happening here: making interesting connections. Too many barely have the brains to cut and paste wikipedia snippets into a term paper. And I always prefer a good idea somewhat awkardly phrased, to hot air couched in the glitchy formulas of professional hacks. Good ideas in brilliant prose are becoming rare these days (hey, I sound like Spengler too now )

    why France?: no alternatives. France had the tradition to build on, the great houses were there. USSR, Weimar Germany & Fascist Italy were probably not conducive environments for great perfumery (Austria contributed Knize Ten!), and England was stuck in its barbershop tradition (all the great ones like Hammam and Blenheim were men's and the pinnacle of that art had long been reached).
    Last edited by the_good_life; 27th September 2007 at 08:48 PM.
    My Wardrobe
    II est de forts parfums pour qui toute matière/Est poreuse. On dirait qu'ils pénètrent le verre.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Perfume and the memory of war

    It was an interesting read for sure, but she makes a lot of assumptions about what perfumers of that era had on their minds. I don't doubt that everyone was concerned and/or frightened about what was going on in Europe at the time, but to suggest that those early masterpieces represent "sorrow and tragedy" is just silly, and casts a bad shadow on those great fragrances that I highly doubt the creators would have appreciated. I'd rather assume they'd prefer to be remembered as having created beauty in the midst of insanity, something I think all artists try/are trying to do. And something that the human race has always been gloriously proficient in.

    I like the unique angle of her writing, but her pessimism, conjecture and extremely narrow views of modern history (including her opinion of modern perfumery) turned it into drivel. This is a good example of a writer getting too mentally wedged into the original concept of their piece that it then represents a distorted view of reality (something very easy to do when writing about any subject).
    Last edited by Maxwell; 27th September 2007 at 09:02 PM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Perfume and the memory of war

    The writer, Erin Solara, is American. She is the author of " "Women in the Line of Fire". She was embedded with the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and has written about these wars. This particular essay linking perfume really took me by surprise.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Perfume and the memory of war

    Quote Originally Posted by Maxwell View Post
    ...a distorted view of reality (something very easy to do when writing about any subject).
    This is my main objection too, and it concerns the feminine(!) perfumes selected, as well as her fragments from school book history.
    Quote Originally Posted by the_good_life
    Austria contributed Knize Ten!
    Is that a fact? I have long tried to get to the source of what I believe could be a rumor.
    Last edited by narcus; 28th September 2007 at 07:31 AM.
    'Il mondo dei profumi è un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Perfume and the memory of war

    I only glanced at the article, but if you weren't in europe during WWI-II to experience "sorrow upon sorrow" I don't see how perfumes from that era could convey anything of the sort.

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