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  1. #1
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    Default Famous Anosmics (?)

    I recently was reading something about William Wordsworth that noted that he suffered from permanent anosmia -- "as is a landscape to a blind man’s eye." Empson, in analysing Wordsworth, notes that "sense" was a critical term for this poet, signifying either a raw excitement of the physical senses, or the highest intellectual exercise, or often both at the same time in some tethered way. There are more references to sight and sound -- "beholding," "gazing," "listening" -- in Wordsworth than in any other Romantic poet but, sure enough, no mention of smell that I am aware of.

    Who else suffered from this affliction? Stevie Wonder. Brian Mulroney. Mary Baker Eddy. Perhaps most notably, Selma Bouvier of the Simpsons (caused by a bottle rocket accident - don't ask). Pressing down on the mental accelerator, it occurs to me that Kant wouldn’t admit smell into his aesthetics, asserting that a garden is a visual art and smell plays no role in its appreciation -- which perhaps is a basis for a tentative diagnosis. Anyone else we can cross off the list of potential personages behind the noms de plume on Basenotes?
    Last edited by schnozz; 17th May 2019 at 02:40 PM.

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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    Interesting about Kant, odd he would say that.

    I can't think of any anosmics.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    If an anosmic farts alone in the woods, and there’s no one else around, does it still smell bad?

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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    *falls down laughing*
    “You are the bait. The bait is you.” ~Trick or Treat (1986)
    “Have a good time, all the time. That is my philosophy.” ~This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
    “Thrrrow yourselves into the river, dahlings!” ~Withnail and I (1987)

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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)


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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    *returns to thread, laughing harder* I’m drinking my morning coffee, and my dog scrambled onto the couch! Who’s that in the GIF, that Elf actor?
    “You are the bait. The bait is you.” ~Trick or Treat (1986)
    “Have a good time, all the time. That is my philosophy.” ~This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
    “Thrrrow yourselves into the river, dahlings!” ~Withnail and I (1987)

  7. #7

    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bavard View Post
    Interesting about Kant, odd he would say that.

    I can't think of any anosmics.
    https://www.contempaesthetics.org/ne...?articleID=697

  8. #8

    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Shemelimelle View Post
    *returns to thread, laughing harder* I’m drinking my morning coffee, and my dog scrambled onto the couch! Who’s that in the GIF, that Elf actor?
    Yep!

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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    I'd buy that he's anosmic.

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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    ...The issue is also address in Kant's Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View -- asserting "atmosphere" cannot be aesthetic. Compare Shelley's Sensitive Plant and description of a flower garden. He practically has a perfume blender's nose: For each one was interpenetrated/With light and the odour of its neighbor shed/Like young lovers, whom youth and love make dear/Wrapt and filled by their mutual atmosphere.

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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    So much sexier than Kant.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    Kant didn't have the chance to encounter perfume review sites, let alone 20 minute longvYouTube fragrance review videos featuring hot ladies and fast cars. Perrhaps he would have changed his mind.

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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaern View Post
    If an anosmic farts alone in the woods, and there’s no one else around, does it still smell bad?
    Remember that while it is perfectly acceptable to criticize the content of a post - criticizing the poster is not.
    Mean spirited, nasty, snide, sarcastic, hateful, and rude individuals on Basenotes don't warrant or deserve my or other Basenoters' acknowledgement or respect.

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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    This might be my fav thread on the site. I need a transcendental idealism that goes beast mode.
    Currently wearing: Le Mat by Mendittorosa

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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    ....
    Last edited by kbe; 17th May 2019 at 09:01 PM.
    Diapers and politicians should be changed often, and for the same reason..

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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    Kant smell...that says it all

    Famous Anosmics:

    William Wordsworth, Seventeenth century British poet
    Bill Pullman, actor
    Brian Mulroney, Canadian Prime Minister
    Michael Hutchence, lead singer of rock band INXS
    Ben Cohen, of Ben & Jerry's
    Diapers and politicians should be changed often, and for the same reason..

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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Proust_Madeleine View Post
    This might be my fav thread on the site. I need a transcendental idealism that goes beast mode.


    I think Kant was somehow impervious to all sensory experience. If there was anyone who ever lived almost entirely in their head, it was that guy. IIRC Schopenhauer, the dedicated, lifelong flautist, claimed that Kant couldn't understand the metaphysics of music because he had never heard anything other than the 18th century equivalent of municipal marching bands in his native Konigsberg. I would guess that his olfactory experience was similarly stunted!

    Edited to add a decisive comment on smell from Kant:

    "To which organic sense do we owe the least and which seems to be the most dispensable? The sense of smell. It does not pay us to cultivate it or to refine it in order to gain enjoyment; this sense can pick up more objects of aversion than of pleasure (especially in crowded places) and, besides, the pleasure coming from the sense of smell cannot be other than fleeting and transitory"

    Excuse me! Although his aversion to foul odors would suggest he has some firsthand experience with them. On the other hand, if you're looking for a philosophical take on smell that is less derisive, look no further than Montaigne, who wrote an entire essay on smells.

    Que scay-je?

  18. #18

    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by kbe View Post
    Kant smell...that says it all

    Famous Anosmics:

    William Wordsworth, Seventeenth century British poet
    Bill Pullman, actor
    Brian Mulroney, Canadian Prime Minister
    Michael Hutchence, lead singer of rock band INXS
    Ben Cohen, of Ben & Jerry's
    How the heck does he come up with those delicious, delicious flavours then? Taste and smell are closely linked after all.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by jkonick View Post
    "To which organic sense do we owe the least and which seems to be the most dispensable? The sense of smell. It does not pay us to cultivate it ...."
    Herr Kant overlooks how often his cave-dwelling ancestors were saved from illness or death by smelling rotten or poisonous foods.

    On the other hand, if I were forced under pain of death to surrender any single one of my senses, I'd probably pick smell.

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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cook.bot View Post
    Herr Kant overlooks how often his cave-dwelling ancestors were saved from illness or death by smelling rotten or poisonous foods.

    On the other hand, if I were forced under pain of death to surrender any single one of my senses, I'd probably pick smell.
    According to Nietzsche, Germany was a generally foul smelling place. Seems like being anosmic would almost be a blessing in this case:

    "The German dislike of life (including the influence of the cellar-air and stove-poison in German dwellings), is essentially a cold-weather complaint"

    Que scay-je?

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cook.bot View Post
    Herr Kant overlooks how often his cave-dwelling ancestors were saved from illness or death by smelling rotten or poisonous foods.

    On the other hand, if I were forced under pain of death to surrender any single one of my senses, I'd probably pick smell.
    I don't think he overlooks that at all. But here he is measuring the sense of smell on the scale of aesthetics.

    Montaigne, by the way, who lived about 200 years before the Rococo world of powder and perfume, was pro smell but anti-perfume. Perversely, it seems to us in the times of daily baths or showers, he viewed smell as an aspect of human relations much as animals of the same species regard smell as a matter of animal relations. One's smell was part of the measure of a man or woman. Good people smelled good naturally and others not. Perfume was either an act of deception or an effective admission that you in fact naturally smelled bad.

    I reckon I too would jettison smell first. If Selma Bouvier can manage... Touch I suppose is a candidate. Does it rate as high on the aesthetic scale? On the utilitarian scale, it more complicated. One might first think of Renard, the Bond villain, and Ronald Niedermann, from the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, neither of whom could feel pain. That might well be manageable and, so long as you're not a fictional anti-hero, could have upsides without necessarily proving to be an Achilles heel. But I suppose true loss of the sense of touch, hypoesthesia, would have more profound impact on proprioception and the like.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    schnozz, this is a veerrrrry interesting thread. “One’s smell was part of the measure of a man or woman.” Perfume as deception or admission of one’s natural malodor would make sense because well-mannered people used to carry around vinaigrettes to slide under their offended noses, especially during long travels aboard ships, and after stepping off their carriages; these vinaigrettes were intended for masking the smells of humans and animals. I read somewhere that the hemlines of skirts were deliberately dyed a brownish color, but then I’m not sure how historically accurate my source was.
    “You are the bait. The bait is you.” ~Trick or Treat (1986)
    “Have a good time, all the time. That is my philosophy.” ~This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
    “Thrrrow yourselves into the river, dahlings!” ~Withnail and I (1987)

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    “One of the stories I heard when I started meeting the perfumers and was let into their tightly closed world involves Jean Carles, one of the greatest perfume makers in Paris–he used to work for Roure in Grasse, near Nice, where all perfumes used to be made. He became anosmic, lost his sense of smell, and he simply carried on from memory, creating perfumes. Like Beethoven after his deafness. Jean Carles went on to create the great Ma Griffe for Carven, a result of pure imagination in the complete absence of the relevant physical sense. Carles’s condition was known only to him and his son. When a client came in, he’d go through the motions, make a big show of smelling various ingredients and, finally, the perfume he had created, which he would present with great gravity to the client, smelling it and waving its odor around the room. And he couldn’t smell anything!” Turin smiles, thinking about it.

    "...;An astounding 1 percent of human genes, we recently discovered, are devoted to olfaction. “So smell must be incredibly important for us,” notes NIH geneticist Dean Hamer, “to devote so much of our DNA to it. The only comparable system–and this was the big surprise to everyone–is the immune system, and we all know why it’s important to fight off invaders. This says smell was central in our evolution in a way that, presently, we don’t really understand.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/23/b...-of-scent.html

    _____________________


    May 1, 2010

    "Anosmia" By Luca Turin

    Two weeks ago I received a phone call from a concert pianist and piano teacher in New York who had gradually lost his sense of smell over a period of years, to the point where only three things still smelled faintly: coffee, chocolate and shit. He had seen an ENT specialist, who apparently looked up his nose and told him that his “olfactory bulb” was looking fine, a remarkable feat considering the bulb is inside the brain. The specialist prescribed a mineral supplement, the medical equivalent of airline sweets.

    Several things this distinguished musician told me were typical of most people in his unfortunate position. First, losing your sense of smell elicits no sympathy whatsoever. Second, those who lose it often feel a terrible loss because what we call taste is mostly smell, so all the pleasures of food are denied to anosmics. All you’re left with is salty, sour, bitter, sweet and umami, not much to go on. Third, the effect on mood is terrible, perhaps unexpectedly so. Another anosmia victim was the journalist Mick O’Hare, who edits the New Scientist magazine. He is as buoyant, positive a man as you’re likely to meet. Yet when he lost his sense of smell after a bad cold he considered suicide.

    His story is exemplary in another respect, because he was cured. After searching high and low, he found a doctor in Washington DC called Robert Henkin who treated him with a drug called theophylline, formerly an asthma medication. It is not clear why this works, and theophylline is not without risks. However, it worked for Mick O’Hare: after over a year his sense of smell started to came back, as luck would have it, while he was on the toilet. He described this to me as “the best smell ever”.

    There are basically four reasons why your sense of smell might not work. The most common is simply a mechanical obstacle preventing the air from reaching the inconspicuous patch of mucosa where the receptor cells dangle in the breeze. That can be figured out by looking up your nose. The second, and most common is post-viral anosmia. An unusually hardy rhinovirus gives you a common cold and takes the opportunity to wipe out the olfactory neurons. These normally grow back —no other part of the nervous system does that so well— but sometimes they don’t. The third reason is something wrong inside your brain, either due to a blow to the head, a tumor or a degenerative disease. Smell loss is an early indicator of several nasty illnesses from Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s. Finally, there is a collection of other causes such as zinc deficiency, cadmium poisoning etc.

    The most important thing if you suffer smell loss is not to suffer it in silence, and to find a doctor who takes it seriously. Make sure it is not a blockage, then see a neurologist. You only have five senses, and none to spare.

    http://doublebasenotes.blogspot.com/...uca-turin.html

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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by pluran View Post


    "...;An astounding 1 percent of human genes, we recently discovered, are devoted to olfaction. “So smell must be incredibly important for us,” notes NIH geneticist Dean Hamer, “to devote so much of our DNA to it. The only comparable system–and this was the big surprise to everyone–is the immune system, and we all know why it’s important to fight off invaders. This says smell was central in our evolution in a way that, presently, we don’t really understand.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/23/b...-of-scent.html[SIZE=2][FONT=arial][COLOR=#333333]
    I have seen similar references before. But then again I have also seen references to the fact that smell is vestigial sense, much reduced from what it once was, and perhaps will vanish altogether before long.

    In his autobiographical papers, Surely you’re joking, Mr Feynman?, Richard Feynman describes seeing an article which slanted toward this latter type. (At this time he was literally at Los Alamos working on the atom bomb.) He set up a series of "bloodhound" experiments whereby he would leave the room and his wife would pick up and return an object -- one of several bottles or a book on the bookshelf. Detection proved easy for him: ‘As soon as you put the bottle near your face, you could smell it was dampish and warmer....’ You just smell the books. It’s hard to explain, because we’re not used to saying things about it. You put each book up to your nose and sniff a few times, and you can tell. It’s very different. A book that’s been standing there a while has a dry, uninteresting kind of smell. But when a hand has touched it, there’s a dampness and a smell that’s very distinct."

  25. #25

    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by jkonick View Post
    According to Nietzsche, Germany was a generally foul smelling place. Seems like being anosmic would almost be a blessing in this case:

    "The German dislike of life (including the influence of the cellar-air and stove-poison in German dwellings), is essentially a cold-weather complaint"
    Could be, it's a smelly world. Funnily enough I thought of the opposite first, that he perhaps still lived in a greener, healthier environment (compared to today's big cities) and that smelling a garden simply wasn't that much of an interesting event for someone like Kant.

    I don't think I took that much interest in smells before discovering perfume, so I could see how it can be considered a lesser sense when compared to vision and audition. Smells good/bad, off/edible, is probably quite enough for many people.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    Of course one can be anosmic to particular smells, and BN is replete with such admissions. Famous people occasionally mention these more particular deficiencies as well. Steve Martin, for example, notes that he is unable to smell moth balls because it is too hard to spread their little legs.
    Last edited by schnozz; 18th May 2019 at 08:36 PM.

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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    This is an interesting organization for those with interest in studying or have diminished or complete loss of sense of smell:

    http://www.fifthsense.org.uk/whoweare/
    Diapers and politicians should be changed often, and for the same reason..

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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by jkonick View Post

    "The sense of smell. It does not pay us to cultivate it or to refine it in order to gain enjoyment; this sense can pick up more objects of aversion than of pleasure (especially in crowded places) and, besides, the pleasure coming from the sense of smell cannot be other than fleeting and transitory"

    Excuse me!
    Kant set forth his contention
    That flowers have one dimension
    Their colors elate
    But their scent is cut rate
    A claim that caused much dissention

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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    I'm not sure if Kant's views were serious.
    If so, was he maybe delirious?
    Smell doesn't matter?
    He sounds mad as a hatter!
    Maybe anosmia, but what else? Mysterious.

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    Default Re: Famous Anosmics (?)

    Kant was so down on the smeller
    Thought a flower's form alone stellar
    Do philosophers know?
    Was his air intake low?
    Some say HE smelled badly, poor feller
    Diapers and politicians should be changed often, and for the same reason..




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