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  1. #1

    Default A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    The New Republic. February 6,1995 (EDITED AND ABRIDGED BY DANIEL PLAINVIEW)

    BREAKING THE SMELL BARRIER. GET A WHIFF OF THIS
    By Richard Klein

    Richard Klein, a professor of French at Cornell University, is the author of Cigarettes
    Are Sublime (Duke).

    In American culture, descended from Puritans, all universal sources of pleasure are
    eventually medicalized, then politicized and finally policed
    �if not prohibited altogether:
    witness alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, fat, pornography, masturbation. Take perfume,
    more and more considered to be a drug and, like all drugs, both venerated as medicine
    and despised as poison.

    Perfume sales are booming: $4.8 billion last year. Americans are celebrating its
    traditional virtues, as a source ofliealing, a jewel ofself-adomment, an instrument of
    seduction and a mild inebriant. There is also the return of aromatherapy, a New Age,
    age-old nostrum prescribed since antiquity, but which disappeared in the eighteenth
    century with the birth of modem medicine. Aromatherapy uses the fragrant essence of
    flowers and the scented oils of herbs to assuage tensions, refresh the spirit and cure a
    variety of ills. In the hands of therapists, perfume is assimilated to balm.

    Yet The New York Times reports that the University of Minnesota has begun to adopt
    a "scent-free policy" that bans perfume from certain areas on behalf of those who suffer
    from multiple chemical sensitivities. The newspaper noted that this move may mark the
    beginning of a national chemical correctness revolution. An organization called the
    Human Ecology Action League has declared: "Perfume is going to be the tobacco
    smoke of tomorrow." To those who want to make America scent-free
    , perfume vapor,
    like nicotine smoke, is a mephitic poison in the nose, like the smell of a reeky skunk
    (Latin, mephitis). To those sickened by its mephitis, perfume is a foul exhalation
    impurely emitted from bodies drenched in its stench. Mephistopheles, who stinks like
    Hell, takes his name from the skunk.

    Perfume is threatening because it is so insinuating. Tlie anti-scent movement had a
    notable success a couple of years ago when it forced Tlie New Yorker to stop running
    scent strips in perfume ads. The magazine caved under the movement's strongest
    argument, that the strips represented a harmful intrusion into the lives of the chemically
    sensitive. The magazine issued a statement saying it would alter its policy out of
    concern for those who "were not comfortable smelling fragrance throughout the issue."
    The crucial word here seems to be "throughout." The dream of advertisers is a scent
    strip whose spray would be so precisely aimed that its fragrance would last only as long
    as it took to sniff and turn the page. But in fact the reader had no way of escaping the
    smell throughout the issue, for perfume's very nature is to leak; its power of expansion
    defies editorial control. Though perfume may impose itself casually or with willful
    audacity, it is always unavoidable. Perfume never gives the smeller a chance.

    Smell has a long history of condemnation. During the eighteenth century, the naturalist
    Buffon, following Aristotle, called smell the most animalistic of the senses and like
    Kant he disparaged it. It was not until Freud that this old story was set on its head.
    Freud's suspicion was aroused by the forces allied against smell. In a characteristic
    move, he reversed the hierarchy of the senses and in one of his most daring
    speculations argued that smell's higher truth was being concealed with the force of a
    taboo.
    .................................

    That truth, however, should not keep us from acknowledging that there are times when
    armpits can be dynamite
    . It depends on your tastes and theirs. Historian Alain Corbin
    recounts in The Foul and the Fragrant: Odor and the Social Imagination that Henry iii,
    King of France, was reputed to have been smitten his whole life with Marie de Cleves
    after he entered a room where she had just been changing and smelled the odor that still
    clung to her chemise.

    Sensitivity to strong odor varies widely from culture to culture. Oily me French could
    eat a whole truffle. The odor of it in our noses would be overwhelming. But a few
    slivers in your scrambled eggs and you can sniff the wind in the old trees. The French,
    at least since Baudelaire, are persuaded there are no absolutely bad or good smells
    . The
    poet wrote that the strongest, most disagreeable smell, if sufficiently diluted, can
    become divine, whereas the most heavenly perfume smells to hell when it's too
    concentrated.

    Compared with the French, we have little tolerance for excremental scent. A great
    burgundy, it is commonly said in France, has a distinct, albeit distant odor of pig merde.

    The French love the smell of everything that belongs to organs and intestines. French
    noses thrill at the pissy perfume of cooking kidneys; they love to hang their wild ducks
    for a week or more before roasting, curing them until they've reached the pungent edge
    of putrefaction. Sex among the French is preoccupied, often obsessed, with anality;


    here we focus on breasts, a national fixation analyzed decades ago by Philip Wylie.
    The predominance of oral as distinct from anal fixations in American culture seems to
    require excessively repressive taboos on all dark and disturbing smells. America's
    romance is still with milk�with consuming the white fat of that infinitely pure,
    all-forgiving, scarcely odorous maternal gift.


    Of course, America has its own special tribal relations to strong smell. In The Raw and
    the Cooked, the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss tells the story of a platoon of
    Americans passing by the mouth of a cave in Normandy during World War ii. The
    stench issuing from it was so appalling that they used a flamethrower to incinerate what
    they were sure must be rotting corpses. The truth they discovered was that these caves
    belonged to the Roquefort cooperative and were brimming with the aging moldy
    cheese. Levi-Strauss noted the cultural difference: what a French nose knows to be the
    sharp effluvia of delicious ripening is evidence to a g.i. nose of carrion flesh. Or
    perhaps it is the American taboo on death that makes us hate the smell of any strong
    odors. Any time we smell a dark smell or even an intense one, it reminds us either of
    our animality or our mortality. In a way, tliese are the same thing. The poet Archie
    Ammons once said that America is always trying to hide the stencil of death� anything
    that speaks of putrefaction, of our body's partial transformation from solid liquid into
    gas. The taboo on strong smells must reflect some deeper irrational fear. As if sniffing
    could kill us, the way the mysterious odor that arose from the body of a dying woman
    in Riverside, California, sickened the doctors and nurses who treated her. Even
    perfumes devised to mask the smell of our rot participate in it; they can't help evoking
    the very vile odor their beautiful fragrance conceals.

    Throughout North America, intense shame surrounds smelling bad. Psychologists note
    that people with real or imagined congenital odors are among their most deeply
    troubled patients. The head of a Canadian clinic specializing in treating chronic bad
    breath remarked that the condition is devastating. "Clients complain of rocky
    marriages, continual rejection at job interviews or lost promotion opportunities," he told
    the Montreal Gazette. Many people, particularly women, dread speaking about intimate
    odors, and those most ashamed are least likely to seek help for what is often a medical
    problem: bacterial and fungal infections. To smell bad is to be permanently disqualified
    from being fully human, too close to being an animal. In America, the sweet smell of
    success has no smell; as a nation we dream of being odor-free. Perhaps we Americans
    do not smell because we aspire to be like money, which rarely smells. "Pecunia non
    olet," replied the Emperor Vespasian when it was suggested to him that it might be
    unseemly to put a tax on public toilets. A piece of gold, after all, can emerge even from
    a cloaca. Our antiperspirants and deodorants let us play or work as hard or as hot as we
    want, and, like gold, remain dry and cool. It has not always been a shame to have
    persistent b.o. When people bathed less, the ammoniac smell of semen surrounded
    certain men with an unmistakable scent, which signaled the vigor of their phallic
    existence. The so-called aura seminalis was said to attract women.

    Louis xiv, the Sun King, loved only women who smelled powerfully bad. The worse
    they stank the better he liked them
    . He particularly favored redheads, who were reputed
    to have an excess of blood and thus smelled the strongest. He himself reeked horribly,
    as the reports of many ambassadors attest. The king abhorred the bath and considered it
    unhealthy.
    He saw himself, like many aristocrats with ancestral ties to the land, as a
    demi-peasant who wanted sex to smell the way it does with animals. But we Americans
    want the opposite. Scentlessness is civility,
    though exceptions are still made for a
    certain class of Englishmen or Anglophiles who believe not much in bathing.

    Louis was not alone in being aroused by bad smells. Plebeians as well as aristocrats
    can find them moving. There are many who love the smell of excrement, who are
    seduced by it and praise it. After all, it is the most democratic smell, the one tfiat tells
    the truth of our universal condition. Our elementary humanity is so insistently present in
    that smell that Voltaire adduced it as an argument against the Incarnation, arguing that
    no God would ever allow Himself to defecate. A Christian might reply that it is
    precisely in that respect, as well, that He, with divine humility, became one of us. Born
    in a manger. He doubtless understood the smells of the barnyard.

    The sublimity of what smells bad may best be grasped if one credits the widely
    circulated rumor that some of the greatest perfumes derive their most troubling strains
    from excretions. These are not only glandular secretions such as musk from the penis of
    male deer, ambergris disgorged by whales or sensuous smelling civet, deposited in anal
    pouches by the eponymous Ethiopian cat, whose scent was beloved by Cleopatra.
    Perfumes may, in addition, bear the notes of urine, semen, blood and even feces. Some
    activists want the fda, which regulates perfumes, to require its manufacturers to list the
    ingredients. Needless to say, the perfumers are resisting mightily, reluctant to invite the
    suspicion they are selling Eau de Merde or Air d'Urine
    . And yet the highest form of
    their art may well consist in their ability to exploit excremental notes that are the most
    troubling to the American nose, in ways that both disguise the source of the trouble and
    mine it for its power to incite a shiver of long repressed carnality. Oddly, the cadre
    demanding labeling for perfume has remained small; there has been no public uproar.
    Maybe our noses know implicitly some of the ingredients, which we would just as soon
    not consciously know anything about.

    Are Americans becoming more hysterical or just more sensitized to odor? ........................
    Conversely, it may be that the scent-free movement represents a moment in an often
    repeated historical cycle. Changes in taste in perfume since the seventeenth century
    have always been linked to political changes. After Louis xiv, the aristocracy adopted
    the more enlightened English models of hygiene and favored the most delicate floral
    scents. With the French Revolution, the aroma of lily�the king's fleur-de-lis�worn as
    perfume was enough to send its enthusiasts to the guillotine. Napoleon and Josephine,
    who came from Martinique and loved tropical scents, wrote intimate letters to one
    another expressing their pleasure in each other's bodily smells. The fashion for strong
    animal-based perfumes was reinforced by the taste for antiquity that characterized the
    Napoleonic Empire. Being rubbed and oiled with musk made the new aristocrats in the
    Tuilleries think they were Roman citizens at the baths. With the Restoration, strong
    perfume fell out of fashion. Tobacco and camphor, extolled by doctors for their
    therapeutic value, became the scents of choice.

    Perfume returned in the middle of the nineteenth century, but less powerfully, more
    harmoniously. Queen Victoria was the object of ridicule among the dandies of the
    Second Empire, who claimed to have detected an undercurrent of musk in the perfume
    she wore on an official visit to Paris in 1855. At the court of Napoleon's nephew,
    animal smells were taboo. Americans at the turn of the century were notorious, for their
    strong perfumes; a Parisian could tell instantly when an American woman walked into a
    room. Two years ago, Aromatique, a home fragrance company, and the maker of
    Smells of Christmas, Spring, Summer and Autumn, added Smells of Arkansas to its
    line. "It evokes lovely memories of wonderful afternoons in the woods," the company's
    owner told The Dallas Morning News. No word how it's doing, or whether the
    residents of Washington are watering their roots with it.

    The present movement to make America scent-free may be only the most radical
    expression of a turn in the cycle of scent, away from the strong perfumes toward barely
    detectable "fresh" fragrances.
    Nobody knows exactly what fresh is, but everybody
    wants it. Some perfumes try to capture it by imitating the peppery odor of ozone when
    it swirls up from the lip of a waterfall and sharpens the smell of the air.
    Others evolve
    into minty notes with an undertone of camphor to startle the nose. Some exploit the
    scent of pine, which masks other odors with its penetrating woody note. If scent is not
    shortly prohibited, you can bet it's swinging, under the new more pious regime, in the
    direction of being the barest whiff of me purest air. The designer Issey Miyake wanted
    a note for his Eau d'lssey that was "kind of translucent. New Age, sparkling water-the
    ... way the bottle looks aesthetically." Perfume is on the way to becoming so fresh that
    it has mainly the odor of the look of the clear bottle that contains it. The designer
    dreams of perfume that doesn't smell but looks good.

    It has often been observed that humans smell like cheese. Patrick Susskind writes that
    babies' feet smell "like fresh butter. And their bodies smell like ... a griddle cake that's
    been soaked in milk." Americans, raised on milk, are probably the cheesiest smelling
    people on earth. Perhaps that's why we eat so little of it, except when it's included in
    something else. The French, who eat a lot of cheese, rarely drink milk. They mostly
    smell like wine.

    If the Americans and French smell different, then do other nations have a characteristic
    smell? Many have claimed they do.
    Their supposed scent is rarely ever perceived as a
    particularly good one. Racism has always been predicated on the belief that one could
    detect the characteristic smell of another race
    . At the turn of the century, a French Dr.
    Cabanes described the bland odor of the English, a mixture of leather and seaweed, that
    often remained in a room for several years. Around the same time, a distinguished
    Japanese scholar. Dr. Buntaro Adachi, denounced the stench of Occidentals. (He may
    have had a point. Japanese are without the gland that produces apocrine, the principle
    source of underarm odor.) A Dr. Berillon, in 1915, during the First World War, wrote a
    much-heralded treatise on the fetid odor of Germans. Racist scientific claims about
    Africans can already be found in 1896, when a certain Jean Lorrain wrote that the
    "odor of the Negro is like rancid butter and pepper." Berillon went so far as to argue
    that smell formed the basis of racial hatred in America. Nothing, he believed, can
    overcome its olfactory antagonisms.

    I disagree, hi fact, I have my own proposal for a kind of political aromatherapy. Start
    from the premise, which is my conclusion, that what smells bad can, in another context,
    smell good and vice versa. To wit: body odor, if it's new, is a pheromone; it was
    probably designed by our genes to attract, not repulse
    . Being new, it has not yet
    acquired the deep rancid note that emerges after a day or so without bathing. My
    proposal, then, is this: If you ever encounter "bad" body odor that your nose tells you
    doesn't come from habits of uncleanliness, but is freshly born of physical exertion or
    nervous energy, try standing it. Seize the opportunity to struggle with your repressions.
    Smell again. With little rabbit sniffs, take a whiff of the other's smell. Then, in
    retro-smell. Try to remember or re-nose it, while you do the work of finding other
    good odors it resembles. In the end, if you can allow yourself to stand somebody's
    smell, you might find your antipathy turning into something like pleasure, maybe love
    .
    Last edited by DanielPlainview; 26th April 2013 at 06:31 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    Thanks for the article.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    this article is far too long for me, and most of us, to read in its entirety. the author also doesn't outline his main points in the first two paragraph. very academic to say the least, and that i wish i had a greater attention spann

  4. #4

    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    Quote Originally Posted by noirdrakkar View Post
    this article is far too long for me, and most of us, to read in its entirety. the author also doesn't outline his main points in the first two paragraph. very academic to say the least, and that i wish i had a greater attention spann

    Do you want me to reduce it for you, keeping the most important/interesting stuff?

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    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    Quote Originally Posted by DanielPlainview View Post
    Do you want me to reduce it for you, keeping the most important/interesting stuff?
    can you summarize the thesis and outline the points in a few sentences.

    if you did that at the beginning in bold, more people would comment

  6. #6

    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    I have just reduced the paper to a reasonable size. Your attention span should be enough now.

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    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    The liver ?

    Interesting that this article is 17 years old; it seems pretty modern to me, even though the seemingly-predicted poop-smelling frags, for the most, have never materialized

  8. #8

    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    Well, it's just an article about smells. It's a page filler; a chattering classes thing like something you read in the Sunday magazine supplement full of stuff we already know - the usual 'aren't cultural differences and attitudes absolutely fascinating'.

    I'm not sure there is anything to talk about...

  9. #9

    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.


  10. #10

    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    But do you guys agree about the RADICAL differences between French and Americans?

  11. #11

    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    Thanks for the article. An interesting perspective on this topic.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    Though spliced with the occasional interesting point, I think the piece is riddled with questionable assumptions, starting with the lead paragraph regarding the regulation of universal pleasure. Exactly how is masturbation policied right now? As for some of the others, they're policied because their use has the potential to infringe on the rights of others. We penalize driving after drinking beyond a certain limit because you're endangering the rights/safety of others. We limit pornography because exposure to it is damaging to children. Tobacco is often limited because it imposes negative effects on bystanders vis a vis second-hand smoke. This is all pretty obvious stuff, and the rather hackneyed suggestion that, "Oh, it's those damn Puritans stealing our fun again!" is tiresome and entirely uncompelling. The author references one remote example of regulation (the U of Minnesota policy, in which scent is banned from specific locations) and immediately begins postulating about the impact of a scent-free America. What poppycock! And he probably knows it, since that part of the piece disappears quite quickly.

    He then jumps from cliche to cliche, assumption to assumption, from the inherent, uh, cheesy, smell of Americans, to some Freudian musing on the preferred sexual scents of the French. And yet, tossed in are no small amount of contradictions, such as the reference to turn of the century Americans reeking of fragrance (even to the French!), yet somehow now we've regressed due to our Puritanical leanings? Which one is it, good sir?

    This is anything but research. It was written for the New Yorker. By a professor of French. And, again, while there are some interesting veins of thought in the piece, it's mostly dominated by cliche and poorly substantiated insinuation. In short, it smelled more of merde than much else.
    Last edited by bleedredandblue; 26th April 2013 at 04:11 PM.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    Quote Originally Posted by DanielPlainview View Post
    But do you guys agree about the RADICAL differences between French and Americans?
    And you are just realizing this?

    Different cultures, different attitudes. Nothing new in your statement above.

  14. #14

    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    Quote Originally Posted by bleedredandblue View Post
    This is anything but research. It was written for the New Yorker. By a professor of French. And, again, while there are some interesting veins of thoughts in the piece, it's mostly dominated by cliche and poorly substantiated insinuations. In short, it smelled more of merde than much else.
    What about the conclusion? What did you think of it?

    If you ever encounter "bad" body odor that your nose tells you
    doesn't come from habits of uncleanliness, but is freshly born of physical exertion or
    nervous energy, try standing it. Seize the opportunity to struggle with your repressions.
    Smell again. With little rabbit sniffs, take a whiff of the other's smell. Then, in
    retro-smell. Try to remember or re-nose it, while you do the work of finding other
    good odors it resembles. In the end, if you can allow yourself to stand somebody's
    smell, you might find your antipathy turning into something like pleasure, maybe love.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    Quote Originally Posted by bleedredandblue View Post
    Though spliced with the occasional interesting point, I think the piece is riddled with questionable assumptions, starting with the lead paragraph regarding the regulation of universal pleasure. Exactly how is masturbation policied right now? As for some of the others, they're policied because their use has the potential to infringe on the rights of others. We penalize driving after drinking beyond a certain limit because you're endangering the rights/safety of others. We limit pornography because exposure to it is damaging to children. Tobacco is often limited because it imposes negative effects on bystanders vis a vis second-hand smoke. This is all pretty obvious stuff, and the rather hackneyed suggestion that, "Oh, it's those damn Puritans stealing our fun again!" is tiresome and entirely uncompelling. The author references one remote example of regulation (the U of Minnesota policy, in which scent is banned from specific locations) and immediately begins postulating about the impact of a scent-free America. What poppycock! And he probably knows it, since that part of the piece disappears quite quickly.

    He then jumps from cliche to cliche, assumption to assumption, from the inherent, uh, cheesy, smell of Americans, to some Freudian musing on the preferred sexual scents of the French. And yet, tossed in are no small amount of contradictions, such as the reference to turn of the century Americans reeking of fragrance (even to the French!), yet somehow now we've regressed due to our Puritanical leanings? Which one is it, good sir?

    This is anything but research. It was written for the New Yorker. By a professor of French. And, again, while there are some interesting veins of thoughts in the piece, it's mostly dominated by cliche and poorly substantiated insinuations. In short, it smelled more of merde than much else.
    Quote Originally Posted by DanielPlainview View Post
    But do you guys agree about the RADICAL differences between French and Americans?
    Dude, if that's your biggest take-away from the article, I think you missed the point. Not everything has to boil down to how different people are - whether the French smell different than Americans, whether homosexuals smell different than heterosexuals. I honestly don't understand why you're so concerned with difference.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by DanielPlainview View Post
    What about the conclusion? What did you think of it?

    If you ever encounter "bad" body odor that your nose tells you
    doesn't come from habits of uncleanliness, but is freshly born of physical exertion or
    nervous energy, try standing it. Seize the opportunity to struggle with your repressions.
    Smell again. With little rabbit sniffs, take a whiff of the other's smell. Then, in
    retro-smell. Try to remember or re-nose it, while you do the work of finding other
    good odors it resembles. In the end, if you can allow yourself to stand somebody's
    smell, you might find your antipathy turning into something like pleasure, maybe love.
    I found it mildly interesting, in the general sense that sometimes our initial reaction to smell can change. As for the slight implication that if we would just be more open to smell, we all might get along better, well, I find that pretty darn silly.

  16. #16

    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    Well I made it through the unabridged version without having to take a nap (I did eat a big bowl of Cheerios mid-way though to liven things up). My only wonder is how masturbation was medicalized?

    Oh that's right 'It'll give you hairy knuckles and make you cross-eyed'. Nevermind.
    Last edited by DuNezDeBuzier; 26th April 2013 at 04:19 PM.
    Simplex Sigillum Veri

  17. #17

    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    Plenty of claims and generalisations made by someone who probably smells a bit bad and wants to be sniffed anyway is what I got out of it :-)

  18. #18

    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    Quote Originally Posted by DanielPlainview View Post
    But do you guys agree about the RADICAL differences between French and Americans?
    You mean the French= acknowledgment of body smells, American=denial of body smells?

    Oh boy, you see that in every one of these magazine articles about perfume 'culture'. It's an old cliche. I'm sure the same guy writes about architecture and feng shui. It's standard journo stuff.

  19. #19

    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    Quote Originally Posted by DuNezDeBuzier View Post
    Well I made it through the unabridged version without having to take a nap (I did eat a big bowl of Cheerios mid-way though to liven things up). My only wonder is how masturbation was medicalized?
    He probably only meant that masturbation was forbidden by the church and some institutions, like the boy scouts for example. I was a boy scout and I remember that in the big book it was written that it is wrong to masturbate.

    Here's what I found on the internet:
    The 1909 YMCA manual From Youth into Manhood added:
    "Here are a few rules that will help the young man who wishes to overcome the habit just described [masturbation] ... Arise three-quarters of an hour before breakfast every morning, take a cold sponge or shower bath."
    Meanwhile, the Boy Scout manual Scouting for Boys mentions a cold shower or bath as a good masturbation cure.
    And there are the Boy Scouts, whose manual for many years derided masturbation as a habit that "quickly destroys both health and spirits," and encouraged abstention, offering counsel that in retrospect chills the modern reader:

    "It may seem difficult to overcome the temptation the first time, but when you have done so once it will be easier afterwards. If you still have trouble about it, do not make a secret of it, go to your scoutmaster and talk it over with him, and all will come right."
    (Because nothing bad ever came of a confused young boy discussing his unit with a scoutmaster.)

    http://gawker.com/5994669/in-defense-of-masturbation
    Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_19520...#ixzz2RaSpjbKW
    Last edited by DanielPlainview; 26th April 2013 at 04:25 PM.

  20. #20

    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    Quote Originally Posted by bleedredandblue View Post
    Though spliced with the occasional interesting point, I think the piece is riddled with questionable assumptions, starting with the lead paragraph regarding the regulation of universal pleasure. Exactly how is masturbation policied right now? As for some of the others, they're policied because their use has the potential to infringe on the rights of others. We penalize driving after drinking beyond a certain limit because you're endangering the rights/safety of others. We limit pornography because exposure to it is damaging to children. Tobacco is often limited because it imposes negative effects on bystanders vis a vis second-hand smoke. This is all pretty obvious stuff, and the rather hackneyed suggestion that, "Oh, it's those damn Puritans stealing our fun again!" is tiresome and entirely uncompelling. The author references one remote example of regulation (the U of Minnesota policy, in which scent is banned from specific locations) and immediately begins postulating about the impact of a scent-free America. What poppycock! And he probably knows it, since that part of the piece disappears quite quickly.

    He then jumps from cliche to cliche, assumption to assumption, from the inherent, uh, cheesy, smell of Americans, to some Freudian musing on the preferred sexual scents of the French. And yet, tossed in are no small amount of contradictions, such as the reference to turn of the century Americans reeking of fragrance (even to the French!), yet somehow now we've regressed due to our Puritanical leanings? Which one is it, good sir?

    This is anything but research. It was written for the New Yorker. By a professor of French. And, again, while there are some interesting veins of thoughts in the piece, it's mostly dominated by cliche and poorly substantiated insinuations. In short, it smelled more of merde than much else.
    Looks like it was written for the New Republic, not the New Yorker. Different magazines altogether.

    I didn't agree with a lot of the content, but it was a quick read and occasionally interesting. Already knew the stuff about French history (seems like every story about Louis XIV prominently features his lack of bathing). He mentioned Napoleon; surprised he didn't mention the famous letter by Napoleon to his wife, which said something like "Home in three weeks. Stop bathing now."

    I sort of disagree with his major thesis, though. Yes, workplaces are becoming more scentfree, and I wouldn't be surprised some day to find it a generally accepted rule in the U.S. that you don't wear cologne to work. But I don't think it has anything to do with highfaluting notions about historical attitudes to scent. I think it's more that in the U.S., there are a substantial minority of people who believe themselves to be "allergic" to scents (whether medically verifiable or not), and complain; and workplaces tend to honor the complainers to avoid the inevitable difficulties if these individuals decide to press the issue. Further, this may shock basenoters, but most people aren't all that into fragrances to begin with, so workplaces move towards the attitude of "What's the big deal? Just stop wearing cologne from 9 to 5. You can wear it on your off time, so it's no big thing."

    Yeah, it's a puff piece, but it didn't take more than a few minutes to read it, and it was occasionally interesting.
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    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    Quote Originally Posted by barclaydetolly View Post
    Looks like it was written for the New Republic, not the New Yorker. Different magazines altogether.

    I didn't agree with a lot of the content, but it was a quick read and occasionally interesting. Already knew the stuff about French history (seems like every story about Louis XIV prominently features his lack of bathing). He mentioned Napoleon; surprised he didn't mention the famous letter by Napoleon to his wife, which said something like "Home in three weeks. Stop bathing now."

    ...

    Yeah, it's a puff piece, but it didn't take more than a few minutes to read it, and it was occasionally interesting.
    Ah, sorry about that, it was TNR. Good catch.

    Definite puff piece, and occasionally interesting, as you say, but too frittered with poorly argued/substantiated thoughts to make me think much of it.

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    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spoombung View Post
    Well, it's just an article about smells. I'm not sure there is anything to talk about...
    Agree.

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    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    I think the broader, provable concept here is that North Americans have developed an obsession with all things "clean/aqua/laundry musk" whereas Europeans do not routinely conclude natural odors associated with the human body or things it may encounter is a sure sign of being unkempt or unclean.

    It is not just fragrance we are talking about. Consider unnecessary products like scented vaginal washes designed to turn a self-cleaning organ into a fragrant garden or ocean beach (and leave it susceptible to various infections caused by a disruption in the natural pH balance). Or scented car washing soap, or fabric softeners with triple-lasting scent staying power. Or scented pet shampoo....

    I see North America heading closer to a Japanese paradigm -- what is yours should not intrude upon what is mine. The Japanese are very conscious of the concept of personal space and avoiding intruding on others, be it with scent or even with the eyes. Americans are caught between our need to be noticed and the right of others to be un disturbed. So we have opted towards scents that trend towards advertising inoffensive cleanliness or flowers or wood, etc.

    Sometimes it gets out of hand. Some personal protection products have familiar-enough scents to "out" the person's condition, malady, or use of a product originally intended to be discrete.

    Scents that trend towards civet or barnyard fecal or human musk, and other "challenging" things are not as much in favor here these days. The American concept of Oud is very different than what someone in Saudi Arabia would recognize.

    Yes I realize this is not always true, but from my experience watching laundry scents, candles, and other air fresheners explode in sales, ordinary odors of the human experience are increasingly shunned in favor of things that remove or mask them.

    Eventually, this will get silly.

    When the scent-is-an-intrusion crowd gets a whiff of au natural, they'll demand a bathing policy and compulsory personal care product use.

  24. #24

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    There is no "personal space". You can switch out having to smell someone for a million different things.

    The idiots that blare their car stereo so loud in traffic I can't hear myself think. But thankfully I don't have to deal with it for more than a few seconds.

    That one really bothers the hell out of me.

    Why don't we also make ugly people wear masks when they're in public?
    No one likes ugly people, and they're definitely not pleasant to look at. Definitely an invasion of space.


    There are some people here that would say that it's ok to wear fragrance even if it bothers someone else, but in other aspects of daily life's personal space intrusion, they get upset.

    In general, I think people need to mind their own damn business.

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    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    I guess writers had to come up with long, useless articles every week even before blogs existed.
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    Default Re: A Scent-Free America? A Very Interesting Article from the New Republic, 1995.

    Quote Originally Posted by heperd View Post
    I guess writers had to come up with long, useless articles every week even before blogs existed.

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