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  1. #1

    Post Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    Recently shafts made a thread about sampling fragrances blindly. This is an interesting topic with several surprising implicit connections. I gave it some thought. Reason for the viewpoint of this text is that popular opinion seems to be that knowledge we have is making it impossible for us to be objective. I'll try to argue this is not all there is to it. I will examine the effects our pre-kowledge might have in our experience of a fragrance.

    We all agree, atleast to some extent, that knowing the product we are testing certainly has an effect on the way we perceive it. Price, brand, nose, reputation, packaging, name, concept, reviews and many other attributes combine for a set of presuppositions. It is usual and natural to think that this restricts us from perceiving the fragrance as it is in itself. This is obviously true. Yet it is not the whole story. Way more interesting question is, if all of this might have some advantages as well. I believe it does - in many ways.

    Let's start from the name. I tend to think, that name is an integral part of an artwork. Naming a painting in certain way gives us a hint in what way we should approach it. Same goes for novels, music and sculptures. I see no reason why this shouldn't be the case in fragrances as well. Not naming an artwork can also be a statement - usually not a strong one, though. I am not at all a fan of some pieces of postmodern art, where we have a banal everyday object; by naming it and taking it to an art exhibition we make it a part of the artworld. It is usually boring and contentless. Witty at best. Once the statement is made, it's well and truly over. While one point here is, that it might make us see a commonplace object in new light, to see beauty in something we haven't looked as an object of potential aesthetic value before, the actual statement is that works of art can not be defined by any innate attributes. Thus we will have to rely on a conception of the artworld. This is not very interesting in our case, so I will not go further here.

    What is important for us is the power pre-knowledge can hold in a positive, enrichening sense. To follow philosopher Arthur Danto's example; naming a painting which is nothing but a red square in different ways has a huge effect on how we perceive it. We can name it "The Israelites crossing the Red Sea", "Kierkegaard's Mood", "The Red Square" or we can choose to not name it at all. We would be hard-pressed to say they are the same work of art at all!

    Just consider Tauer's L'Air du Desert Marocain; if we wouldn't know the name, the fragrance would certainly lose some of it's evocative nature! I don't think any of us would have described this fantatic scent as smelling like Moroccan desert air if we didn't know the name, which means it doesn't actually smell like it, it's just a fantastic abstraction. Messe de Minuit is another similar case.

    While there are some other interesting cases, I think that in our case it makes sense to broaden this name issue to all pre-knowledge without making this idea too much damage. Knowing the list of notes can help us in making some distinctions, picking up notes and accords, understanding the evolution of a fragrance more clearly. Reviews is another tool I see as mostly positive. There are alot of great scents I would have not grown to like had it not been some fantastic reviews and reviewers. This point is more practical than philosophical, yet important all the same. There are way too many fragrances in the world for one person. Reviews, opinions, nose behind the scent, the list of notes and other information help us pick the scents we should sample in the first place. Reading that some scent might take several wearings to get into can be another important indicator. Without information like this we would be absolutely blind in the world of perfumes.

    I could go on and on, but I'm sure you understand my main point; last time I wrote a text that combined philosophy, aesthetics and perfumes, I got overtly excited and wrote a very long text. Now I will have to restrict myself. To clarify the title I borrowed from Immanuel Kant; in this particulat case the first part of the paragraph would mean, that reading and studying perfumes without ever smelling them would be empty and pointless. Nobody would deny this. We would have the form but no matter, to use another classic distinction. Latter part was my main concern in this text; sampling a fragrance without any concepts or information would actually impoverish the experience - matter without form. This is an idea many might dispute by thinking all the knowledge we have is only hindering our possibility of really smelling a fragrance for what it is. While this is true to certain extent, I wanted to look it from a different direction; as something that enrichens our experience and help us make distinctions and abstractions with more clarity.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    I agree with you. Alien is purple. And I've heard some people say they smell grapes in it. I don't smell grapes. . . but everyone smells things differently it seems.
    [I]"Embrace those things which give you pleasure, after all, there is so much mediocrity to endure elsewhere."[/I] -- [URL="http://community.basenotes.net/showthread.php?p=1496120#post1496120"]Inselaffe[/URL]

  3. #3

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    Quote Originally Posted by Aiona View Post
    I agree with you. Alien is purple. And I've heard some people say they smell grapes in it. I don't smell grapes. . . but everyone smells things differently it seems.
    Some people associate the smell of jasmine with that of grapes.
    Mr Ludlow's musings kind of boil down to The Emperor's New Clothes syndrome. Humans, like dogs, apes bees, etc., are social animals, therefore they naturally want to be part of a group.
    As humans, we have the further distinction of having different types of groups that exist in political/economic categories. We are so desperate to belong to the correct group, the one that matches our self-image, that we are easily influenced by images of power and seduction. If you think Creed's visual imagery fills your void the juice will smell better.
    But, in the end, it's all in one's mind, isn't it?
    Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 9th February 2009 at 05:52 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    Whaow !! ...What else is there to say? This is perfect and clear thinking from beginning to end. After reading it twice, I even understand the title of this thread (I believe ). There is nothing I couldn't fully agree to, and immediately music comes to mind which always fascinated me but meant so much more after I learned why and for what purpose certain pieces had been written. Say "Haydn, Symphony #101" and I won't really know what you are talking about. But when you say 'The Clock' I may be able to hum a tune and feel the steady pace of it.

    An example of the opposite, though: Early in 2008 I read C. Burrs Perfect Scent which, as you probably know, is partly about one of those celebrity scents by Coty. Burr is a gifted author when it comes to describing people and his interchange with them. I really developed a positive interest in the person Sarah Jessica Parker, and of course I wished I could have sampled 'Lovely', the perfume associated with her name forever. Just as well I couldn't while still reading the book. A few months later 'Lovely' arrived in Europe, I sampled it, and my disappointment couldn't have been bigger. I honestly believe I smelled that fragrance for what it was. And that was not at all what Burr had made of it in so many kind words and vivid clips from interviews and situations. The name 'Lovely' is almost too appropriate! I guess young girls will probably love it. Miss Parker, I still prefer to think, is so much more!

    Please link me back to "a text that combined philosophy, aesthetics and perfumes...". I remember having archived it, but forgot where. That discussion ended far too soon! For me, I am afraid, the topic was perhaps a little abstract.
    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny_Ludlow View Post
    ....I could go on and on, but I'm sure you understand my main point; last time I wrote a text that combined philosophy, aesthetics and perfumes, I got overtly excited and wrote a very long text. Now I will have to restrict myself. To clarify the title I borrowed from Immanuel Kant; in this particulat case the first part of the paragraph would mean, that reading and studying perfumes without ever smelling them would be empty and pointless. Nobody would deny this. We would have the form but no matter, to use another classic distinction. Latter part was my main concern in this text; sampling a fragrance without any concepts or information would actually impoverish the experience - matter without form. This is an idea many might dispute by thinking all the knowledge we have is only hindering our possibility of really smelling a fragrance for what it is. While this is true to certain extent, I wanted to look it from a different direction; as something that enrichens our experience and help us make distinctions and abstractions with more clarity.
    Last edited by narcus; 9th February 2009 at 08:43 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.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    I think "blind smelling" is irrelevant to a purely emotional or aesthetic appreciation of perfume. However it can be a useful tool of analysis and I would consider it essential to any form of professional perfume criticism - if certain criteria are observed: blind tasting of wine e.g. is pointless if it occurs in a completely isolated form. As has been shown even sensory experts often cannot tell the difference bewteen some reds and whites in a black glass. A professional wine taster in Germany has devised a system in which wines are grouped together by an expert into flights according to certain criteria and then anonymized. The wine tester knows he will be drinking 5 2007 vintage dry Rieslings from the Mosel or five Nappa Valley Cabernets e.g. but he does not know the producers or the results of the chemical analysis (sugar content etc.). Similarly, a professional perfume tester should smell a prepared anonymized flight of 5 leathery chypres or 5 incense fragrances, write an evaluation and add an additional commentary perhaps, when the identities have been revealed. This system provides necessary context while eliminating undesirable bias not perfectly of course but nonetheless effectively.
    My Wardrobe
    II est de forts parfums pour qui toute matière/Est poreuse. On dirait qu'ils pénètrent le verre.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    what a thread ! and yes, i agree to it to a certain extent. the name (sometimes) gives away a hint on what to expect. like say, Ingrant Patchouli, Real Patchouly as opposed to Thundra which again is a patchouli based scent.

    i dont think Fougere Bengale or Amber Sultan gives away much to the buyer..and im sure most would be surprised with the results. so, even if SL releases scents without any title and in numerics..it would still evoke similar thoughts. like Amber Sultan would be a spicy laden herbal concoction...terre d hermes will be dry peppery vetiver or what have you...for me, more than the name..i look out for familiar notes if any...for eg. haitian vetiver...agarwood, cedar, rose, jasmine, patchouli, rosewood etal...when you see such notes in an compostion, your mind automatically starts to think on as to what genre of scent could it be...whether it's spice laden...or is it patchouli based or is it peppery dry like TdH etal. and yes, sometimes and only sometimes the name helps...
    Last edited by jenson; 9th February 2009 at 04:14 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re:

    WHAT?!
    OK, I need to read more Kant because, sorry, that phrase comes out as a bit insipid. "Thoughts without content are empty". Well yes, anything without content is empty. Pepsi bottles without content are empty. The very definition of emptiness is something without content. "Intuitions without concepts are blind". Isn't intuition the lack of a conscious and rigid concept? Aren't all intuitions "blind" bits of "knowledge"? OK Kant, you cannot disappoint me. You need some splainin to do.

    Still, I disagree with Johnny_Ludlow. In my book, a piece of art that needs explanation is an incomplete piece of art. As Heidegger would say, Art is a form of unconcealed truth, a complete, self-suficient entity. Reading about a fragrance you just sampled accomplishes two things. 1. It tells you to look for certain accords and notes (which is good if you are still learning about fragrances). 2. It locks your mind on an Idea, a preconceived notion. It prevents the disclosure of the particular perfume in its complete being. Someone said M7 fresh smells like Fruit Loops, and now everybody smells Fruit Loops in M7. I do not see it. The next newbie that comes along will expect to smell fruitllops and he will probably (dis)miss many other notes.

    This subjection of our aesthetic experiences to reviews and other pre-stated notions also has two difficulties. 1. How are we going to recognize pure creativity and originality? When something truly new comes along, how are we going to say whether it is good or not? And derived from this, 2. From where did the first reviewers gain the first insights on a fragrance? From the description of the manufacturer? I think not. More often than not, the best reviews have nothing to do with whatever the marketing team of a fragrance says.

    Liberating ourselves from our current paradigms and ideas is really a wonderful thing. The last time I smelled Kouros Sport Fresh by itself (i.e. not as a Kouros Flanker), I was pleasantly surprised when I smelled Violet. What a wonderful note! How did I miss it before? When I forgot about feminine and masculine fragrances, jewels like Mitsouko, Fleur du Male and Obsesion Night, revealed themselves as nice wearable fragrances. Knize ten apeared to me as a nice and lush Floral. When I forgot about price, I learned to put the house of YSL above many other niche brands.
    Last edited by irish; 9th February 2009 at 04:27 PM.
    Shameless Plug: Sales thread with Roses Musk, Rose Poivree, and others.
    Looking for lot of samples of female fragrances.

  8. #8

    Default Re:

    Quote Originally Posted by irish View Post
    WHAT?!
    OK, I need to read more Kant because, sorry, that phrase comes out as a bit insipid. "Thoughts without content are empty". Well duh, anything without content is empty. The very definition of emptiness is something without content. "Intuitions without concepts are blind". Isn't intuition the lack of a conscious and rigid concept? Aren't all intuitions "blind" bits of "knowledge"? OK Kant, you cannot disappoint me. You need some splainin to do.
    „Gedanken ohne Inhalt sind leer, Anschauungen ohne Begriffe sind blind.“

    What Kant means here is that what he calls judgments i.e. statements on the world are always formed by a synthesis of sensory input and human reason. Pure reason without sensory perception is empty but sensory perception without categories derived from reason is blind.

    And yes you have a point that any form of recontextualization including the decontextualization of blind smelling, changes the perception of an object and may thus lead to an enhanced enriched appreciation of it. Placing a urinal in a museum raised a heck of a lot of interesting questions (less about urinals, than about art and museums, of course), and spraying Kouros in a public restroom would probably lead to the spontaneous formation of some kind of Moebius strip . Seriously, I think you can make a case for names, color etc. providing a useful enriching context for a perfume but it can also be an obnoxious distraction engineered by marketing schmucks.
    Last edited by the_good_life; 9th February 2009 at 04:34 PM.
    My Wardrobe
    II est de forts parfums pour qui toute matière/Est poreuse. On dirait qu'ils pénètrent le verre.

  9. #9

    Default Re:

    Quote Originally Posted by the_good_life View Post
    „Gedanken ohne Inhalt sind leer, Anschauungen ohne Begriffe sind blind.“

    What Kant means here is that what he calls judgments i.e. statements on the world are always formed by a synthesis of sensory input and human reason. Pure reason without sensory perception is empty but sensory perception without categories derived from reason is blind.
    AH! that makes more sense (pun intended).

    spraying Kouros in a public restroom would probably lead to the spontaneous formation of some kind of Moebius strip .
    Last edited by irish; 9th February 2009 at 04:42 PM.
    Shameless Plug: Sales thread with Roses Musk, Rose Poivree, and others.
    Looking for lot of samples of female fragrances.

  10. #10

    Post Re:

    Quote Originally Posted by irish View Post
    Still, I disagree with Johnny_Ludlow. In my book, a piece of art that needs explanation is an incomplete piece of art. As Heidegger would say, Art is a form of unconcealed truth, a complete, self-suficient entity. Reading about a fragrance you just sampled accomplishes two things. 1. It tells you to look for certain accords and notes (which is good if you are still learning about fragrances). 2. It locks your mind on an Idea, a preconceived notion. It prevents the disclosure of the particular perfume in its complete being. Someone said M7 fresh smells like Fruit Loops, and now everybody smells Fruit Loops in M7. I do not see it. The next newbie that comes along will expect to smell fruitllops and he will probably (dis)miss many other notes.
    I don't disagree with these notions at all; apart from the Heidegger's idea about art, which I find naïve and idealized. These were more or less the implicit starting points for my post. My main point was, that while our preconceptions lead our perception, at the same time they make understanding art possible. What you say is mostly right and well put, it still is just one side of the story. It's not that concepts only make it possible for us to describe our opinions or notions about wine or music or fragrances, they also help us in making distinctions in what our senses perceive. By this I mean they help us understand our own perception; we don't just smell, see or hear things, but our understanding and knowledge of any given form of art give us tools for making more accurate distinctions. Your stance seems to make aesthetics almost exclusively sensory, which is very problematic.
    Last edited by Johnny_Ludlow; 9th February 2009 at 05:08 PM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    It's so difficult to put fragrance on the same level as the visual fine arts. Commercial fragrances are a group effort (unless you work like Andy Tauer) from concept to finished product.
    A painting, sculpture, drawing, photograph, etc. is best compared to poetry or prose.
    As of yet, nothing is perceived or created in a void, although if one get's inspiration from watching television, that may be the exception.
    Everything has a context that influences its received perception.
    Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 9th February 2009 at 06:05 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Re:

    Quote Originally Posted by irish View Post
    Someone said M7 fresh smells like Fruit Loops, and now everybody smells Fruit Loops in M7. I do not see it. The next newbie that comes along will expect to smell fruitllops and he will probably (dis)miss many other notes.
    Got a sample of M7 and agree. I've eaten Fruit Loops pretty much all my life, and do not smell anything like it at all. Even if you don't tell me what the name of that M7 sample was or whether it contains Aoud wood, I'd still say, "Woody traditional medicine that's used in some Asian countries" (being Asian myself, I should know).

  13. #13

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    For me, frags need to be experienced over a very long period of time, around a year, at least, with a wearing once a month or so. And that will only work if you really pay attention to it over the hours per wearing that you can smell it. This is not something that is adaptable to a blind testing sort of format. I'm more interested in the reviewing process looked at generally. As I've noticed here on the BN directory, some reviewers like certain notes or accords that I don't (which is fine if they disclose this, as I often do with regard to lavender, geranium, anise, and sandalwood, if too strong), some don't seem to spend enough time on the frag, some are too lenient, etc., and of course some are making "newbie" comments that are not very helpful (as I'm sure I've done, and wish I could edit!). So for me the only thing that makes sense is to read all the reviews, as "flawed" as they may be, and try to determine if it's something I'd like. And so far, the results have been very good, though not perfect of course.
    Last edited by Bigsly; 9th February 2009 at 08:23 PM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    Ok, I have to admit that I did a fragmented reading of your analysis, focusing on some statements while failing to recognize your concessions to the other side of perfume perception. Mainly, I was troubled by:

    Reviews is another tool I see as mostly positive. There are alot of great scents I would have not grown to like had it not been some fantastic reviews and reviewers[…] Without information like this we would be absolutely blind in the world of perfumes.

    Latter part was my main concern in this text; sampling a fragrance without any concepts or information would actually impoverish the experience - matter without form.
    Here, I was worried that you were subjecting your judgment and appreciation of a perfume to the opinion of the perfumer or other people. Moreover, I did not understand what you meant by information and concepts, so it seemed to me that you needed to know the intentions of the perfume a priori, to make a unique and accurate judgment. I see that is not the case.

    I guess sometimes I feel a bit frustrated by the incapacity of some us to abstract scents and give them a fair charitable appreciation (Something I should have done better with your essay). Saying that it “just smells like Barbasol” is an assault upon Rive Gauche and upon the masterpiece it really is (at least to me). A review written by Burr about I am king being dismissed as trash because it is from Burr about Puff Daddy. The underlying thought that the scent which receives the prettiest review, or the one with the higher number of positive reviews is better. The thought that comments made by someone with 5000 posts are more valid than the comments made by someone with 50. The “What would x wear?” or “Is it a good idea to blind buy Y?” threads. The insistence of newbies to ask for the most sensual scent. The thought that natural, niche, and expensive = better. In all these cases*, preconceived notions prevent the scent to fully undisclosed itself.

    We tend to forget that, for someone who has never experienced a fragrance, the epistemological value of our reviews is pretty much non-existent (i.e. if you have never really smelled the scent, it does not matter how much you-read/I-write about it, you still do not know jack). Basenotes is a great thing, but fragrance and art appreciation is still something very personal. Name, bottle, pyramid of notes, and even the most eloquent reviews have many times proved to be more distractions than an aid.

    Your stance seems to make aesthetics almost exclusively sensory, which is very problematic.
    It is not only problematic but impossible. In real appreciation and perception (and I believe this is the whole point of kant and Heidegger) we cannot separate matter and form, perception and interpretation, subject and object. My point is that we should not fixate one particular idea on one particular perfume. That after we have organized our concepts and gained some insight on notes and the structure of perfumes, we have to learn to have our own voice and taste.

    *And these are experiences I have lived in and outside BN.
    Last edited by irish; 10th February 2009 at 02:39 AM.
    Shameless Plug: Sales thread with Roses Musk, Rose Poivree, and others.
    Looking for lot of samples of female fragrances.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruggles View Post
    It's so difficult to put fragrance on the same level as the visual fine arts. Commercial fragrances are a group effort (unless you work like Andy Tauer) from concept to finished product.
    A painting, sculpture, drawing, photograph, etc. is best compared to poetry or prose...
    Not all of the master paintings have been executed by the masters alone. Besides workshops there have been painting 'schools' in the environment of, say, Veronese, Flamish, Dutch etc. masters. Michelangelo and Leonardo had to submit drafts to their commissioners who not only chose the themes but also had the final say in details of execution, comparable to the art director in a modern perfume design house. Team work is not necessarily an obstacle in creating true art, I would say, and neither is the fact that perfumes (books, movies) also must sell. But that is a side track already. The way I understand the starting post, the real topic is defined at the end of it: << ...all the knowledge we have is only hindering our possibility of really smelling a fragrance for what it is. While this is true to certain extent, I wanted to look it from a different direction; as something that enriches our experience and helps us make distinctions and abstractions with more clarity. >> In other words: we all would understand Leonardo's masterworks better if we had the key to the smiles of Mona Lisa and Giovanni B.
    Last edited by narcus; 9th February 2009 at 10:59 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.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    Quote Originally Posted by Aiona View Post
    I agree with you. Alien is purple. And I've heard some people say they smell grapes in it. I don't smell grapes. . . but everyone smells things differently it seems.
    People smell the same things, the words we use to describe those perceptions differ.
    Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them. - Immanuel Kant

  17. #17

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    ...
    Last edited by surreality; 10th February 2009 at 12:00 AM.
    Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them. - Immanuel Kant

  18. #18

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    Totally agree that words aren't the enemy here. It's just that if the goal is accurate perception of something really complex like perfume, the danger with words is that you can slap a label on something and then only look at the label. But not necessarily. Just using words doesn't mean you've stopped smelling, hearing, etc. Of course it's more complex than that because perceptions are mediated by words almost immediately, right? Or maybe not; dunno.
    But I like the idea of taking the labels off once in a while to reintroduce an element of chaos where a deceptively simple name may be obscuring something different and beautiful. Good language both helps you order and helps you renew your order. A healthy culture has its poets and its scientists drinking together, I would think. Something like that seems like an ideal of perfume language, as well. Try to be accurate; let the part of yourself that is constantly renewed also renew your perceptions and your language. Stopping now.
    Yeah, like this talk.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    I don't quite agree with the OP. I'd rather let the juice speak for itself without getting caught up by the often arbitrary name.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    Quote Originally Posted by narcus View Post
    Not all of the master paintings have been executed by the masters alone. Besides workshops there have been painting 'schools' in the environment of, say, Veronese, Flamish, Dutch etc. masters. Michelangelo and Leonardo had to submit drafts to their commissioners who not only chose the themes but also had the final say in details of execution, comparable to the art director in a modern perfume design house. Team work is not necessarily an obstacle in creating true art, I would say, and neither is the fact that perfumes (books, movies) also must sell. But that is a side track already. The way I understand the starting post, the real topic is defined at the end of it: << ...all the knowledge we have is only hindering our possibility of really smelling a fragrance for what it is. While this is true to certain extent, I wanted to look it from a different direction; as something that enriches our experience and helps us make distinctions and abstractions with more clarity. >> In other words: we all would understand Leonardo's masterworks better if we had the key to the smiles of Mona Lisa and Giovanni B.
    Yes, painters and sculptors of large scale works always had, and still do, have studios. I obviously know these things, as I have a Master of Fine Arts and Islamic Art.
    But surely, you can't compare the artist's workshop, even Warhol's, to a product that's made from a brief and a committee.
    My point is a fragrance is created from a, "a top down" design - thank you Mr. Turin. And if you didn't know the name of the fragrance, the name is the first cause of pre-judging, you wouldn't even know that this fragrance existed. So, of course there is no such thing as an objective view of a fragrance, unless you are its creator and are smelling it without, name, bottle, package, gender designation. Like Andy Tauer, who creates without a brief.
    Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 10th February 2009 at 03:00 AM.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruggles View Post
    (1.) But surely, you can't compare the artist's workshop, even Warhol's, to a product that's made from a brief and a committee.
    ( 2.) So, of course there is no such thing as an objective view of a fragrance, unless you are its creator and are smelling it without, name, bottle, package, gender designation.
    ad 1: That's where our opinions differ, but the fact has no bearing on the subject. There are realities between a Coty team (or Ellena's entourage on the Nile task) and a kitchen perfumer (or an EauxM / LesNez who contracts professionals).

    ad 2:
    I agree to the first part, i.e. without any 'unless' conditions. In my examples, Ellena and EauxM may have a better insight, and are perhaps the only ones to know how far the final product is removed from the original vision. But does this warrant objectivity ? Experienced authors know that their novels' heroes will have a second life at readers' bedsides. Or they may die the premature death of boredom.

    Great works are universal and open to more than one interpretation. 'Objectivity', I thought, is not the question here, is it?
    Last edited by narcus; 10th February 2009 at 12:08 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.

  22. #22

    Smile Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    Thanks for thoughtful answers guys! I very much appreciate that you took your time to read my post and give this subject a thought.

    Irish, that was a very good response. My text was so weighed towards positive aspects pre-knowledge can have because I didn't feel a need to emphasize the other side, since most of us would agree on that. Thus I completely understand your first post. I probably didn't write everything I should have wrote to make myself clear, some thoughts stayed inside my head, and when reading what I had wrote I automatically filled the actual text with my own implicit ideas about the subject. That is what happens when you don't have a chance to take a distance to your own text.

    I wanted my text to be an opener to conversation, so I'm very happy to see the direction this thread is taking. This is the only forum where I could even think about posting something like this. Disagreeing with sound reasoning and arguments is of course always welcome, I truly enjoy a good conversation. It would really take huge amount of time and space to make all underlying premises explicit, so we are going to talk past each other, that's kind of inevitable to a certain extent. Still, there are already many valuable and spot on contributions. Let's keep the thread alive!

  23. #23

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    Quote Originally Posted by narcus View Post
    Great works are universal and open to more than one interpretation. 'Objectivity', I thought, is not the question here, is it?
    I guess that I've been off-topic from my first post. Names do help. Look at Etat Libre d'Orange, if Rossy de Palma was named something like Rose Fascinant, no one would perceive an edginess from this rather ordinary rose scent. Right?
    BTW, I can't think of anything in the art world that is considered great by everyone - there are a lot of people in the world who have never seen a da Vinci.
    Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 10th February 2009 at 08:42 PM.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    I don't want to get too involved in the philosophy/semantics debate, but I will say this:

    I agree that people put too much stock in names and marketing copy. L'air du Desert Marocain is a great example. I live in a desert, so I know what the desert smells like...and LdDM ain't it. Even Tania Sanchez's review in The Guide is fairly rhapsodic (and uninformative). I think it smells fantastic in spite of its name and ad copy. I don't discount names and ad copy 100%, but it seems fairly common for people to get carried away (or even cowed) pretty easily. Don't get me wrong--I can understand why...I'm just sayin'.

    By the way...L'Air du Desert Arizonain smells like...creosote bushes, sage and occasionally rosemary. Anyone know a good creosote EdT?

  25. #25

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    When I was an undergrad at Yale in the late 70s Danto gave a lecture on the red squares that was heavily promoted and I attended. He introduced his theses by explaining that the line of enquiry was motivated by his perplexity at Warhol's displaying Brillo boxes. So, he wrapped his head around this work, essentially, by begging the question of whether these Brillo boxes would survive the "test of time" (they will).

    Another teacher of mine in my college years, when I went to summer school at Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon, UK - now the "queen's composer", Sir Peter Maxwell Davies - not long ago ruffled feathers by calling down Damian Hirst and other artists who, it seemed to him, cynically produce degenerate art for a now largely investment banking oriented artworld. And I say, good for "Max" (as everyone calls him)!

    I've just been watching Tarkovsky's Andre Rubelev and paused at the end of the scene in which Theophanes the Greek explains that "What is praised today is abused tomorrow".

    All of this I mention just as a reminder of the necessity of bringing critical faculties to bear on the kind of nonsense that passes as information in the perfume world. Luca Turin makes some pronounement about Nombre Noir and suddenly people will sell their souls for the stuff. Quite often the list of "notes" published by a manufacturer are nothing other than an attempt to throw the customer off of the real truth. After all, how would it look for them to say "Well, we noticed how well Acqua di Gio was selling so we took the same formula and added a few things that wouldn't change it too much and raised the price a bit to make it seem more special and here you are: please be go so good as to eat it!"

  26. #26

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    Quote Originally Posted by andylama View Post
    I agree that people put too much stock in names and marketing copy. L'air du Desert Marocain is a great example. I live in a desert, so I know what the desert smells like...and LdDM ain't it.
    I believe you! I happen to also know bits of the Moroccan desert. (There are actually two, but in this context, who cares?) Maybe it was the wrong time of the year, the wrong winds, or no wind at all why I have zero fragrant memories of that desert. One could hardly say the same about air filled with this perfume ! For reasons I am still uncertain about, it fails to cast its spell on me. I think I might like it more if it didn’t contain such an overload of (certainly good) ingredients. My system is just not fit enough to handle such dense, intense smells for longer periods of time.

    Tania Sanchez mentions styrax and frankincense which she automatically associates with peace and similar matters. This is a rather common but evitable cliché, not shared by everybody. She also describes her drive across that other desert (andylama’s , I guess), and I can share : vast, empty space, a wide sky, unawareness of time and huge silence. But what made her write about that in her review of L’Air - the perfume or its name? To me the answer is obvious because the perfume could just as well have been named Berberian Kidnappers, or Caravan of Spices in the Sunset (for romantic minds ).

    I am surprised that Tauer’s Le Maroc never became popular at all. For reasons of its own, I am not in love with it either, but it certainly has the same high quality, and doesn’t lack in uniqueness either. It can’t be because it is a feminine (at least not on BN ). I have also seen it propagated for men occasionally by Tauer. The name is almost too nondescript though. But what may really have hindered its success was the emphasis on one ingredient - rose! Tauer started it, all ads have it, and even Sanchez’ review has “rose-jasmine” right at the beginning. Nobody please think of Patous wonderful Rose-jasmines. Le Maroc couldn't be further away! It is really about something else, and therefore probably much more Moroccan than L’Air even
    (some orangy-mandarine kind of oil, something musty-incensy in addition to heavier, sweet, floral notes, and perhaps saffron - all in one). But when people are told to expect rose, and detect very little of it, they tend to be quite disappointed. I think this has been the unfortunate fate of Le Maroc: disappointing people! And this brings me back to Johnny’s thesis:

    sampling a fragrance without any concepts or information would actually impoverish the experience - matter without form


    I must modify it to include the Maroc example, but I still say essentially the same: sampling a fragrance with the w r o n g concept or information would actually impoverish the experience – true matter, wrong perception.
    Last edited by narcus; 11th February 2009 at 11:28 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.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind

    I think you would never be able to sample a fragrance without any concepts or information that could colour your judgements of the fragrance.

    The frameworks people discussed earlier, you live in at least one and that framework encompasses all of us. The names, concepts and given to us by that framework and you can´t just escape it, if you did all you know and remember would become meaningless..You can see that a frameworks changes slightly over time, we have a different understanding of what ratio is than the ancient greeks.

    So to fragrance, I´d say that because of all your experiences, living in the framework that you do, you already are prejudged and biased to certain things and not to others. You do wonder if the fragrance is you, whether it suits you and if it´s suitable for work or the home. This is very focused on individuality.

    We are aware that the purpose of marketing is to convince us that ´yes this fragrance is for you´ and we know we are weak to it. It takes us more effort to sniff and really stay true to what we think about something than going with the flow. Again it´s all focused on the individual, marketing says it´s for you, or something you want to become. And you wonder if this is you, if you wear the fragrance or would the fragrance wear you?

    While in other times people would ask themselves completely different questions that determine whether they would wear a fragrance or not, because in the framework they lived in individuality was less important than today.

    And this is regardless of taste, another thing that matters is how others perceive us. We want to be different in one regard but we also worry about how others may perceive it. We cannot bother anyone with our smell or we can´t seem less masculine, less feminine etc. Another aspect that is used by marketing to sell us a fragrance because it reassures us that it is masculine and feminine.

    Roses and jasmine would be a combination that is strongly associated now with femininity and thus knowing that it is feminine it might be harder to like if you identify yourself as masculine more.

    Don´t know if this makes much sense, I dont have the time to think it all out and I left out typical heidegger terms (gestalt, gestell) But seeing all this is pretty good since I should start doing more philosophy soon and finish my damned degree in it
    But once you get locked into a serious perfume collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.

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