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  1. #1

    Default Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    I bought a decant of this from the very kind B'noter Jenson, and my first thoughts on application was that it was terrible; completely unwearable, and a mess. It's reviews here only backed up my impressions--1 neutral and 3 thumbs-down.

    I wore it again today and did a 180. Maybe it was because I was expecting it to smell like scotch whiskey, and it didn't disappoint, but I found myself liking this one much better than the initial application. It's dry as a bone, definitely unique, and though I couldn't, still, imagine a setting where wearing it would be appropiate, it dried down to a very pleasant woody/vetiver scent that I found very pleasant.

    Any thoughts?
    Last edited by Butthead53; 11th March 2009 at 01:00 AM.

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    Definitely an acquired taste - I seem to remember a thread on it last week, though it may have been two weeks ago. Scentemental posted that it's primarily javanese vetiver oil. The first few hours are challenging, but the dry down is remarkable. Gotta give props to Profumum for making such a ballsy fragrance.

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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    This one needs quite a few wearings. Like bbBD said the initial blast can be way too much but the drydown is worth the wait. I'm not sure it could be said to be primarily pure aged javanese vetiver oil as Scentemental wrote, there is a lot more going on here; peat, scotch, wood that all add there own character to the deep pungent vetiver notes. Very nice, with awesome longevity and sillage but a little hard to wear.
    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

  4. #4

    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    Quote Originally Posted by surreality View Post
    This one needs quite a few wearings. Like bbBD said the initial blast can be way too much but the drydown is worth the wait. I'm not sure it could be said to be primarily pure aged javanese vetiver oil as Scentemental wrote, there is a lot more going on here; peat, scotch, wood that all add there own character to the deep pungent vetiver notes. Very nice, with awesome longevity and sillage but a little hard to wear.
    Have you smelled aged Javanese Vetiver oil? My observations are based on my own bottle of aged Javanese vetiver oil that is approximately 8 to 9 years old. All the things you characterize as "peat, scotch, wood" are clearly part of the extraordinarily rich and complex initial top notes and heart notes of the vetiver oil itself. The trajectory Profumum takes is identical to the trajectory of the long drawn out drydown of the aged Javanese Vetiver oil I have.

    I try not to claim anything off the top of my head when I post, and you can rest assured that when I claim those notes are part of the scent profile of the aged Javanese Vetiver oil, and, hence, that, for the most part, Profumum Fumidus is made up of very well aged Javanese vetiver oil and not much else, I do so based on having compared the aged Javanese vetiver oil to Profumum Fumidus. Unless you have done so yourself, I don't understand how you could claim the "
    peat, scotch, wood" notes are not part of the oil itself.

    Of course, if Profumum and Luckyscent.com claim there is "essence of distilled scotch"--whatever that may be--in Fumidus, then it must be true, right? It's a little harder to sell a bottle for $240.00 if you claim it primarily contains vetiver oil, and yet. . . .

    scentemental

    Last edited by scentemental; 11th March 2009 at 04:23 AM.

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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    Haven't smelled any vetiver oils myself, Javanese or otherwise, but I'm a big fan of the 'dus. (Thanks again, scentemental!) I, too, was put off by that first blast of what one or two unhappy reviewers have identified as birch bark. My girlfriend pleaded with me to scrub it off. I lied and told her I did. Several hours later, during a heated game of pool, she wouldn't stop smelling me, asking what marvelous scent I'd put on...

    Another reviewer compares Fumidus to Encre Noir -- do others corroborate this? It would seem to be in line with the emphasis on the vetiver, no?

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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    This is really intriguing information scentemental, thanx! i was wondering if you cud spare a drop or two of this vetiver oil that you have...i'm really curious about it... btw, is it relatively easy to source this oil...? and any idea on how much does it cost...?

    Thnx!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    Quote Originally Posted by idobsky View Post
    Haven't smelled any vetiver oils myself, Javanese or otherwise, but I'm a big fan of the 'dus. (Thanks again, scentemental!) I, too, was put off by that first blast of what one or two unhappy reviewers have identified as birch bark. . . .

    Idobsky my friend, please allow me to use your post a point of departure and say a word about the “one or two unhappy reviewers” you mention. These “one or two unhappy reviewers” have identified that initial blast as birch bark, because like many reviewers they are simple sounding off the notes already given to them by Luckyscent.com without any knowledge of what they are actually talking about, which equally applies to Luckyscent.com. This is the problem when the publicity blurbs become the basis of interpreting a scent rather than actually experience of essential oils and aromachemicals. It's like a dog chasing its tail, initially very entertaining but ultimately pointless and quite embarrassing to look at when it goes on too long and when it happens too often.

    Birch Bark oil is not only a misnomer, it is the wrong oil. If you’re looking to describe the phenolic tar, smoke, and burnt wood notes present in the top and heart notes of Fumidus, the oil you want is not Birch Bark oil, it’s Rectified Birch Tar oil. They are two completely—and I stress “completely” strenuously—different oils with completely different scent profiles even though they derive from the same source, Birch bark. The only way you couldn’t tell them apart is if you were completely ignorant of the difference, which clearly your “one or two unhappy reviewers” are, as is Luckyscent.com.

    Birch Bark oil is produced by breaking up Birch bark into tiny pieces and macerating it water for a period of time until it becomes a pulpy mass. That mass is then steam distilled. What does the steam distilled Birch bark oil smell like? Well it smells exactly like wintergreen oil because like wintergreen oil it is made up of almost entirely of methyl salicylate. I don’t recall any strong wintergreen scent in Fumidus, do you? Whether Luckyscent.com got it wrong or whether they thought that Birch Bark oil sounds more sexy than Rectified Birch Tar oil, the point remains, that to the majority of reviewers (and bloggers I might add), I suspect, it makes little difference since they tend to regurgitate what they’re given.

    For argument's sake, let’s give Luckyscent.com the benefit of the doubt and imagine what they really wanted to claim is that Fumidus contains Rectified Birch Tar oil. The problem with claiming Fumidus contains Rectified Birch Tar Oil in any significant amount that would account for the tar, smoke, and burnt wood notes present in the top and heart notes is that a fundamental characteristic of Rectified Birch Tar oil when the phenolic tar, smoke, and burnt wood top note components have faded is that the dominant heart note component of Rectified Birch Tar oil, which persists from the heart notes and well into drydown, is a distinctive, smooth yet powerful leather note. I don't recall any such note in Fumidus. I will say it again, all the top notes and heart notes found in Fumidus can and are found in top notes and heart notes of aged Javanese vetiver oil including the smoky component. Unlike Rectified Birch Tar oil, these tar, smoke, and burnt wood notes in aged Javanese Vetiver oil persist well into the heart notes with no pronounced powerful leather note whatsoever. This is the scent profile of the Javanese Vetiver oil and this is the scent profile of Fumidus. So, let’s not give Luckyscent.com the benefit of the doubt.

    One final point, Rectified Birch Tar oil is not even an essential oil. The process of producing Rectified Birch Tar oil begins with Birch bark (sometimes with the addition of twigs and sometimes the heartwood) that is subject to destructive distillation, a process whereby the wood is super heated in an airless distilling type set up to the point where it breaks down to form what is, ultimately, tar. Nothing of the original Birch bark (and sometimes wood) essential oil remains. The tar itself is then subject to steam distillation, and the fraction that is collected off from this is called Rectified Birch Tar oil. Rectified Birch Tar oil has traditionally been used to tan and preserve Russian leather. The fragrance note of Russian Leather comes from Rectified Birch Tar oil. Again, I might be mistaken, but I certainly don’t smell any leather note, minor or major, in Fumidus.

    Don't even get me started on the "Essence of distilled scotch" nonsense.

    I trust I haven’t been chasing my tail.

    scentemental

    Last edited by scentemental; 12th March 2009 at 02:30 PM.

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    thebeck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    I like Fumidus, but find it unwearable in public. There are two wearable alternatives that I own and love.

    Bell' Antonio by Hilde Soliani
    Black Tourmaline by Oliver Durbano

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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    I agree with Scentemental - Fumidus is almost pure vetiver to my nose, and though it's great stuff, I can't really get enthused enough to throw in that much money for something I already have a 12$ bottle of...

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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    Quote Originally Posted by Galamb_Borong View Post
    I agree with Scentemental - Fumidus is almost pure vetiver to my nose, and though it's great stuff, I can't really get enthused enough to throw in that much money for something I already have a 12$ bottle of...

    wow, may i have a link to this juice we are talkin about here...? thnx!
    Last edited by jenson; 11th March 2009 at 07:28 PM.

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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    Quote Originally Posted by jenson View Post
    wow, may i have a link to this juice we are talkin about here...? thnx!
    I just meant vetiver essential oil. Scentemental specified "aged Javanese", and he's probably right, but I don't know where my vetiver essential oil comes from, honestly; I just picked it up at a local store.

    Mind you, it's a lot easier to apply Fumidus than vetiver essential oil - it has a texture like molasses, so I usually dilute it a bit.

    Something I've done a couple times is put a drop of pure vetiver essential oil in my hair before washing it. The fragrance is so tenacious it gives me a nice light vetiver-ish smell all day.
    Last edited by Sugandaraja; 11th March 2009 at 07:35 PM.

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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    Quote Originally Posted by Galamb_Borong View Post
    I just meant vetiver essential oil. Scentemental specified "aged Javanese", and he's probably right, but I don't know where my vetiver essential oil comes from, honestly; I just picked it up at a local store.

    Mind you, it's a lot easier to apply Fumidus than vetiver essential oil - it has a texture like molasses, so I usually dilute it a bit.

    Something I've done a couple times is put a drop of pure vetiver essential oil in my hair before washing it. The fragrance is so tenacious it gives me a nice light vetiver-ish smell all day.
    Thnx Galamb. it's kinda hard for me to understand that a juice as viscous and dynamic as Fumidus would be availabe at $12...i would sell of all my profumums if that is the case however, Scentemental really stresses on the aspect that it's aged (good 10-15 years)+ it's coming from a specific continent, making it unique. just like sandalwood from mysore is unique. This in itself makes it a unique offering. i dont think any other brand would dare release such a scent. i also understand the fact that Scentemental too respects this release. only difference? he knows the secret behind it
    Last edited by jenson; 11th March 2009 at 08:09 PM.

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    Oaksbluff's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    scentemental,

    reading your post here makes me hope that someday this will be among others collated into published work. It is both readable and informative. kudos, and keep it coming!

    as for my relationship with Fumidus, well, I posted this as a review, but after the initial impression wore off (and it bears scant resemblance to peaty, Islay malts, I can assure all of you. For me it's the equivalent of saying Johnny Walker tastes like Ardbeg-- um, it don't), all that was left was an almost perfect echo of Encre Noir. Don't know if they both contain the same vetiver aromachemicals or what, but, I do know that I'd be hard pressed to shell out for the Profumum, when I have the $50 Lalique, an $85 18 year old Lagavullin, AND dinner for two at Chez Robert here in town for the same scratch.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    Thanks for the information on the process behind birch bark oil, rectified birch tar oil and the differences. Fascinating.

    My only worry is that those who would learn a lot about this (lovers of leather or tar accords) will never see this vital information buried in the middle of a thread on Fumidus.
    Last edited by mikeperez23; 12th March 2009 at 02:34 PM.

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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    I too am always glad to read scentemental's descriptions of various processes. I've read a little bit about the rectified birch tar process as I love leather fragrances, but not in so much detail.

    As to where Luckyscent got the 'essence of distilled scotch' note they publish in their description; would this come from Profumum themselves? Would LS just make it up? I will admit that - at first - the topnotes of Fumidus do share a similarity to the way certain scotches smell - but the intimation that they've somehow distilled scotch into a perfume oil does seem a little odd. Even still, would LS just make that up as a published note? I would believe they would - I would believe they wouldn't. Is there another published source for Fumidus notes that isn't Luckyscent? As scentemental points out, Profumum probably doesn't want to admit that a $240 fragrance is nearly all a single essential oil.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oaksbluff View Post
    scentemental,

    reading your post here makes me hope that someday this will be among others collated into published work. It is both readable and informative. kudos, and keep it coming!

    as for my relationship with Fumidus, well, I posted this as a review, but after the initial impression wore off (and it bears scant resemblance to peaty, Islay malts, I can assure all of you. For me it's the equivalent of saying Johnny Walker tastes like Ardbeg-- um, it don't), all that was left was an almost perfect echo of Encre Noir. Don't know if they both contain the same vetiver aromachemicals or what, but, I do know that I'd be hard pressed to shell out for the Profumum, when I have the $50 Lalique, an $85 18 year old Lagavullin, AND dinner for two at Chez Robert here in town for the same scratch.
    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    Thanks for the information on the process behind birch bark oil, rectified birch tar oil and the differences. Fascinating.

    My only worry is that those who would learn a lot about this (lovers of leather or tar accords) will never see this vital information buried in the middle of a thread on Fumidus.
    Thanks so much Oaksbluff. It is, in most cases, a thankless job taking the time and energy (I am a professional, and I work more than full-time) to put such posts together, so I appreciate your letting me know that you value such posts. It sure beats having to deal with uninformed cavils and side swipes.

    I also appreciate your taking the time and care to confirm what I am claiming with regard to Fumidus, especially in regard to the "Essence of distilled scotch" nonsense.

    With regard to my publishing a book, I have an agent and two publishers who have expressed interest. When and how this book gets published is another issue. I used to find that there was enough enthusiasm for informed posts on this board that gave me the impetus and purpose to write, but I have to say, very sadly, I don't find that to be the case anymore. It's getting harder to give a damn--I've posted for 5 years on this board and not once have I been approach to contribute an article about anything--and, so, you understand why I appreciate your (and Mike's) comments so much. It seems the same twenty people find my posts of any value, so, naturally I wonder, why I am expending my energy and time. I often think I just should put my energies into a book and send those twenty people complimentary copies when I am done.

    Mike your enthusiasm and care for knowledge, which I appreciate with much gratitude and joy, is unequaled on this board. I am, however, under no illusion that most of what I post becomes ephemera given that very few people share such enthusiasm and care. I don't think this site at the administrative level has been careful to cultivate an inducement to sustain the interest and the commitment of those who take their fragrances and the attendant knowledge to do with fragrances seriously. Witness the loss over the years of pretty much most people who really knew what they were talking about and really cared about what they knew and talked about. It would be too depressing to rattle off a list of names.

    Quote Originally Posted by jenson View Post
    Thnx Galamb. it's kinda hard for me to understand that a juice as viscous and dynamic as Fumidus would be availabe at $12...i would sell of all my profumums if that is the case however, Scentemental really stresses on the aspect that it's aged (good 10-15 years)+ it's coming from a specific continent, making it unique. just like sandalwood from mysore is unique. This in itself makes it a unique offering. i dont think any other brand would dare release such a scent. i also understand the fact that Scentemental too respects this release. only difference? he knows the secret behind it
    No Jenson, with all due respect, you've missed my point entirely. There's nothing especially expensive or rare about Javanese vetiver oil. It's very cheap to buy; it's produced in prodigious quantities, and if you store it for a few years (which costs nothing to do), it becomes even richer even in its initial harshness and in its basenotes. Therefore, it makes Fumidus less than a "unique offering." My whole point behind taking almost two full days of all my spare time in posting with regard to this fragrance is to demystify it. Having said that, I do think Fumidus in terms of invention is a very clever idea, and it's a very clever idea in terms of marketing, clever, if not misleading. Finally, I do like the fragrance, as I do in general most Profumum offerings. I wouldn't pay full or anywhere near full price for any of them, but, hey, that's just me.

    Quote Originally Posted by bbBD View Post
    I too am always glad to read scentemental's descriptions of various processes. I've read a little bit about the rectified birch tar process as I love leather fragrances, but not in so much detail.

    As to where Luckyscent got the 'essence of distilled scotch' note they publish in their description; would this come from Profumum themselves? Would LS just make it up? I will admit that - at first - the topnotes of Fumidus do share a similarity to the way certain scotches smell - but the intimation that they've somehow distilled scotch into a perfume oil does seem a little odd. Even still, would LS just make that up as a published note? I would believe they would - I would believe they wouldn't. Is there another published source for Fumidus notes that isn't Luckyscent? As scentemental points out, Profumum probably doesn't want to admit that a $240 fragrance is nearly all a single essential oil.

    Thank you again bbBD for taking the time to respond carefully and appreciatively to my post. Yes, I do like appreciative responses in case anyone was wondering.

    You raise, as always, very pertinent questions. Yes, I would like to know from where Luckyscent.com gets their information. I have my own answer, but since obscenities are not allowed on the board, I will refrain from giving such an answer. This in not the first time I have pointed out egregious errors in the way they talk about fragrances, but you know what, I don't blame them or Profumum in a sense since they're in the business of selling fragrances for exorbitant to obscene prices. Sure, I wish they were more truthful, but if you've read Chandler Burr's courageous book, The Perfect Scent, you realize that the first thing to go with the invention of the modern perfume industry was the truth. What disturbs me more is how many people tend to echo the industry buzz when writing about fragrances. One would imagine that there would be more objective informed discussion with the proliferation of fragrance chatter into the blogosphere, but I find that has made the situation only worse. Blogs have become, in many cases, unthinking co-opted organs of the dissemination of packaged dreams sold at dreamlike prices (for the sellers) to a somnolent somnambulistic consumer.


    scentemental

    Last edited by scentemental; 12th March 2009 at 04:28 PM.

  17. #17
    zztopp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    Fumidus's "well-aged" javanese oil content perhaps makes the best case for "time is money" ..

    Scentemental, I look forward to your book .. I just published a book via VDM Verlag and its on sale on Amazon.com (although its not in fragrance/fragrance industry area)
    -

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    i would love to get this vetiver oil, could anyone guide me on how to procure one? i tried on google with not much luck...Thnx!

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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    Well scentemenal, your writings have many fans and I look forward to the posts into which you obviously put much time and effort. I would venture to say that you have more fans that you realize as there are lurkers and the like who do not post, but I can sympathize that you aren't getting the appreciation or recognition that your expertise rightfully deserves. Selfishly I hope you don't stop posting.

    Every Luckyscent description makes the fragrance out to be the coming of the messiah, and only occasionally do their cheery blurbs closely relate to the actual fragrance experience. But that is what they are in the business of selling, and one can't fault them for not saying "this fragrance really isn't all that, but you should drop two bills on it regardless." My inclination - and this is only a hunch - is that Profumum themselves created the 'essence of distilled scotch' fiction. I say this only because I know an SA who works at a high-end niche shop, and I've seen the marketing materials the houses send to accompany their fragrances so that the SAs have the buzzwords they want them to use to sell their products. There's usually a page on each fragrance with fragrance notes and even adjectives the SAs should use to promote the product. I have a feeling that Luckyscent's snappy copywriter takes these notes and melds them into the flowery descriptions we read on the website. Again, this is just a hunch and it wouldn't shock me to hear LS just made it up.

    On a side note, it's really unbelievable that people on Fragrantica would plagiarize LS sales blurbs and pass them off as legit reviews. It's really, really messed up - as are the reviews that were copied from BN and posted as reviews of different fragrances on Fragrantica.

    With regard to Fumudis, I'd think that Profumum missed the mark by not revealing its 'real' ingredients. They could take the 'highest concentration of vetiver oil' away from Malle's VE and they'd probably attract all the curious vetiver fans. I'm personally not a scotch drinker (not from lack of trying), but even if I were I don't know how appealing it sounds to smell like scotch.

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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    Quote Originally Posted by scentemental View Post
    Idobsky my friend, please allow me to use your post a point of departure and say a word about the “one or two unhappy reviewers” you mention. These “one or two unhappy reviewers” have identified that initial blast as birch bark, because like many reviewers they are simple sounding off the notes already given to them by Luckyscent.com without any knowledge of what they are actually talking about, which equally applies to Luckyscent.com. This is the problem when the publicity blurbs become the basis of interpreting a scent rather than actually experience of essential oils and aromachemicals. It's like a dog chasing its tail, initially very entertaining but ultimately pointless and quite embarrassing to look at when it goes on too long and when it happens too often.
    I'll add my voice to the chorus of thanks for your very informative post, Scentemental. I'm still very new to BN and to the vertiginous world of fragrance in general, but already I'm learning a lot from your contributions.

    For the sake of dialogue, though, I want to analyze your post from (what I'll gloss as) a relativist point of view. There's obviously a lot to consider in your discussion, and my own thought process tends to be a bit scattered, so I apologize in advance if I stop making sense at any point. I'll also apologize for my prodigious use of quotation marks below, but hopefully I'll make clear why I insist on using them.

    I sense a certain appeal to purism in your general position, which I think is expressed pretty concisely in the above quote: the ultimate ground on which to identify a scent is through essential oils and aromachemicals. Olfaction as I understand it (based entirely on Chandler Burr's exegesis of Turin's research) operates according to a material, one-to-one correspondence between a given molecule's wave number and one's experience of its scent when that molecule enters one's nose. That different molecules can have the same wave number complicates things a bit, but your position still makes very logical sense: familiarity with the scent of an individual molecule is a very solid ground on which to identify notes in a perfume.

    Your problem with the (admittedly uncritical) circulation of mis-identified notes seems to be rooted in a disappointment with the state of the perfume-consuming community: unscrupulous or uninformed sellers provide lists of notes that include things like "birch bark" and "essence of distilled scotch" to passive consumers, who then parrot these note lists in their own discourse. A seller's linguistic ingenuity in describing the contents of a particular fragrance then inflates its symbolic value, independently of the material value or rarity of the of the oils used. "Birch bark" and "essence of distilled scotch" sound sexier, or more rarified, or more distinctive than "Javanese vetiver oil," and retailers thereby dupe unwitting consumers into shelling out more than they should for a relatively common plant product.

    So here's where my relativist doubt comes in: unless one self-consciously seeks out an environment in which to approach aromachemicals (more or less) directly, the way we smell -- or rather, the way we articulate scent through language -- is always going to be mediated by language, whether we acknowledge it or not, whether it be in a marketplace or not. It seems to me that we tend to accept or even value certain modes of olfactory-linguistic mediation, while rejecting or denigrating others. When a reviewer writes, for example, that a certain fragrance reminds him or her of the scent of maple trees in the fall, we're disposed to reduce or ignore the mediation imposed by memory, and to grant that there's an unassailable, primary experience involved. Of course, the smell my hypothetical reviewer associates with "maple trees in fall" might also include the scent of diesel fumes from a nearby highway, or the scent of lighter fluid used to burn piles of maple leaves, etc. etc. Which is to say that an essential oil or aromachemical derived from maple trees -- I clearly have no idea what's involved in the chemistry of maple-smells -- might differ substantially from what this individual calls "maple trees in fall."

    Let me try to get closer to my point here from another angle. Those who live in New York might recall that over the past three or four years, a strange "maple syrup" smell has occasionally enveloped the whole city. I just read an article that the source of this mystery has been discovered: a factory in New Jersey that processes fenugreek seeds, which apparently smell a lot like maple syrup to a lot of New Yorkers.

    [Link here: http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?se...cal&id=6642803 ]

    I've never smelled raw or processed fenugreek seeds, but I did know exactly what other New Yorkers were referring to when they would speak of the mysterious "maple syrup" smell.

    Likewise, I can't remember ever smelling peat or birch bark in isolation. I'm sure at some point in my short life I've been exposed to both, but I probably wouldn't be able to distinguish them from other similar scents in a blind smell test. (That's not to say I don't want to *learn* how to distinguish them; I do, very much, and that's why I'm finding many of Scentemental's posts so valuable.)

    Nevertheless, when I smell Fumidus, I do have the impression that I know which "notes" -- whatever their origin -- Luckyscent/Profumum are trying to describe so attractively. I agree that Fumidus doesn't smell like scotch (or at least not like the few single malts I've sampled), but the descriptor "peat" does make a certain intuitive sense to me, even if I couldn't tell peat from Pete.

    What I want to suggest, then, is that we reconsider what we expect from "notes," keeping in mind that the word "note" itself is already serving as a metaphor -- that is, already a mediated way of describing scents in a language poached from the experience of sound. If (as Scentemental has explained in another very informative post) the word "vetiver" designates a wide variety of scent-experiences, and if aged Javanese vetiver oil in particular produces a temporal experience of both top and heart notes it seems kind of hard to sustain the argument that there can or should be a single, precise linguistic designation for the sensory experience of a single "note." If our experience of a scent is dynamic, why shouldn't our description of it accommodate that dynamism? What seems to be at stake, then, is our choice of metaphors: while Scentemental has the experience to link the experience of Fumidus to one of aged Javenese vetiver oil, judging by the responses in this post, most of us don't. So we depart from, discuss, dispute the metaphors more readily at hand: namely, the "notes" that were used to sell it to us.

    I don't think the metaphors used in marketing are necessarily bad or misleading, even when they're chemically inaccurate, even when they're used to squeeze more and more money out of me. So can I have my cake and eat it, too? Can I learn that there's something called rectified birch tar oil, and something called birch bark oil, can I learn that neither is actually present in Fumidus, and can I then turn around and use the word "birch" to describe what is so offensive about the opening notes of my SotD to my girlfriend?
    Last edited by idobsky; 14th March 2009 at 09:20 PM.

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    the_good_life's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    Quote Originally Posted by idobsky View Post

    I don't think the metaphors used in marketing are necessarily bad or misleading, even when they're chemically inaccurate, even when they're used to squeeze more and more money out of me. So can I have my cake and eat it, too? Can I learn that there's something called rectified birch tar oil, and something called birch bark oil, can I learn that neither is actually present in Fumidus, and can I then turn around and use the word "birch" to describe what is so offensive about the opening notes of my SotD to my girlfriend?
    I think you've addressed a core point of contention between radical postmodernists and modernists here, and a reason why postmodernism had frequently shown itself to be incapable of (and disinterested in) a critique of what Marxists would call "false consciousness." The fact that our perception of reality is inevitably mediated through language does not mean there is no reality. There is a qualitative difference between arguing whether to call the death of Charles I a legal execution of a criminal or the murder of a divinely ordained monarch and denying his killing by the executioner. There is an empirically verifiable reality about Fumidus containing or not containing rectified birch tar oil or Scotch whisky essence. Claims not conforming to this verifiable reality are false either from a lack of knowledge or an ultimately economic agenda. If you say "I smell birch" to describe the fragrance in question you are really using a (linguistically typical) shortcut - a metaphor. What you mean is "it reminds me of the smell of birch," which is a perfectly valid statement. This is quite different from a company claiming non-existent ingredients - that is metaphor with an economic agenda. And it is different from a blog slavishly accepting company PR and proceeding to state "The birch in this perfume reminds me of..." It would be simple enough to rephrase this as "the birch-like notes in this perfume". Admittedly, there are grey areas. Is it OK for dior to speak of Jasmine in Eau Sauvage, whent it contains sythetic iso-jasmonates that evoke jasmine? If there was a general consciousness of and consensus on the fact that fragrance pyramides are entirely metaphorical constructions, and if there excisted a discourse consistently connecting that metaphorical universe with aromchemical reality, then there might be a basis for legitimately using that metaphorcal language in full awareness of its limitations. But as the discussion of the "cost" of Encre Noir on another thread indicated (which mainly consists of cheap Iso E Super and cheap vetiver and/or vetiver derivatives) the perfume industry uses this metaphorical language to systematically obscur the entire nature and particularly the economics of its business. and that is something which perfume lovers and blogs should be critically discussing (1000fragrances does so very competently, e.g. when exposing the plagiarism and trashy quality behind many glamorously packaged releases by supposedly grand houses). I am certainly not in favor of speaking about perfume in chemical formulas and I realize that perfumery in the bourgeois era has always been about emotions, fantasies and representation (in the pomo sense of the word). But that should not preclude some well-grounded reflection of facts, which, I believe, will ultimately enhance the pleasure one takes in fragrance and will help one distinguish wheat and chaff, as subjective a process as that may ultimately be. Knowledge IS (consumer) power.
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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    Quote Originally Posted by the_good_life View Post
    I think you've addressed a core point of contention between radical postmodernists and modernists here, and a reason why postmodernism had frequently shown itself to be incapable of (and disinterested in) a critique of what Marxists would call "false consciousness..." There is an empirically verifiable reality about Fumidus containing or not containing rectified birch tar oil or Scotch whisky essence. Claims not conforming to this verifiable reality are false either from a lack of knowledge or an ultimately economic agenda. If you say "I smell birch" to describe the fragrance in question you are really using a (linguistically typical) shortcut - a metaphor... I am certainly not in favor of speaking about perfume in chemical formulas and I realize that perfumery in the bourgeois era has always been about emotions, fantasies and representation (in the pomo sense of the word). But that should not preclude some well-grounded reflection of facts, which, I believe, will ultimately enhance the pleasure one takes in fragrance and will help one distinguish wheat and chaff, as subjective a process as that may ultimately be. Knowledge IS (consumer) power.
    I don't see how your advocacy of modernist aesthetics is compatible with Marx's project. Your problem with the consumer of Encre Noir doesn't seem to be that he's consuming in a capitalist marketplace, but rather that he's not consuming *well*.

    The demystification you describe (and in which Scentemental engaged above) is not the same as the de-fetishization of perfume-commodities. In my understanding of Marx, the consciousness of he who buys wheat is just as false as the consciousness of he who buys chaff, regardless of the material qualities of either. A de-alienation of the labor of perfume production would propose that we stop supporting the exploitation of L'Artisan's flower harvesters, or the countless, nameless lab workers at Quest International. The alternative would be to start fabricating fragrances ourselves (which is not an entirely unattractive option, in my opinion).

    I'm unconvinced that there's any consciousness that isn't (always already) false. (I'm deliberately assuming the position of parrot, repeating Derrida's argument about what he called the metaphysics of presence.) That is, the very possibility of a false consciousness (and of the attendant Marxist notions of ideology, hegemony, et al.) requires, as you point out, something called an empirically verifiable reality. What I wanted to suggest in the above post was that when one *does* engage in the process of empirical verification (at least what I've seen of this process so far), what one finds after working through the chain of signifiers from market to laboratory to nasal receptors -- what occupies the position of stable, verifiable ground -- is in fact (and de jure) another metaphor. Insofar as olfaction is an inescapably semiotic process, even chemically pure aromachemicals are subject to slippage in their meaning. Burr, for example, writes of Turin finding two materially dissimilar molecules that share the same wave number, and produce the same olfactory response. Different material realities, same human experience. Scentemental (in his post on vetiver) writes of the multiplicity of olfactory responses attending to the single signifier, "vetiver." My suggestion is that we might approach olfactory response phenomenologically, rather than unilaterally privileging the materiality of fragrance.

    Since you and I are both inescapably caught up in the logic of capitalism, it seems important to understand the symbolic processes at work in our consumption practices. I'm all for the demystification of perfumes -- that's why I started reading these forums in the first place. But even -- especially -- for the educated, empowered consumer, there's another order of meaning (beyond materialism) at work, so I don't see demystification as the ultimate or unique source of (symbolic) value when describing fragrance. In fact, I'd go so far as to suggest that the act of demystification is simultaneously an act of remystification -- an act that reinstalls a fundamentally bourgeois value system as the rightful, proper, cultured, educated measure of consumer practice. Discourses of connoisseurship or distinction (I'm paraphrasing Bourdieu, and badly, no doubt) mask the structure of symbolic capital by which the bourgeoisie perpetuates its position in the capitalist system.

    My preference is not to take for granted the experience of the consumer, not to assume that s/he who buys Encre Noir (or worse still, Molecule 01) is automatically ignorant, or passive, or whatever. In my limited experience, this approach offers the most viable ground from which to launch a critique of the domination of capitalism; the diversity internal to the category of (putatively) false consciousness is precisely the site at which to find meanings and practices that escape or contest capitalist hegemony.

    I could elaborate on this last point, but I feel like I'm already blowing pretty hard. In closing I'll say that I appreciate your response, and that I, too, derive a certain pleasure from relating fragrance to its material origins. But I can also appreciate the experiences of those who relate to fragrance in other ways; I'm especially pleased when those experiences surprise me.
    Last edited by idobsky; 18th March 2009 at 09:46 PM.

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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    I relate to fragrance by how it smells.

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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Profumum Fumidus?

    Quote Originally Posted by the_good_life View Post
    But that should not preclude some well-grounded reflection of facts, which, I believe, will ultimately enhance the pleasure one takes in fragrance and will help one distinguish wheat and chaff, as subjective a process as that may ultimately be. Knowledge IS (consumer) power.
    Exactly. Over the past year or so some blogs and Basenotes.com have exposed the surprising/shocking innards of many fan favorites which inturn has resulted in a sharp decrease in blind fanboyism which was on display on many perfume blogs and sites with overtly floral prose, hype and praise for frags from their favorites noses and/or houses. Such critical dissection of the composition is always welcome (esp. for the technically inclined) and as you say knowledge is (consumer) power. Nevertheless, this shouldn't deter one from enjoying a fragrance just because its composed of a whipping-boy note like calone, or Iso E Super, etc. Illusions can work wonders and sometimes exposing the machinations behind one can subconsciously plant a negative seed in some peoples head. Fumidus maybe a sleight of hand or a misdirection but in the end it just smells good (well maybe not to all).
    Last edited by zztopp; 19th March 2009 at 12:57 AM.
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