First, I want to thank all of you who offered remedies, doctors, possible reasons, etc for my anosmic, tasteless self. I am still somewhat taste-free (okay! you in the back row! stop snickering!)….and smells are limited to what my soft palate can translate. I’ve mostly given up on chocolate for the time being – it’s just too ridiculous. I can smell parts of most perfumes these days, just not in the nuanced fashion I would prefer (for example, L’Heure Fougueuse smells like straight green hay all the way through which, for that price point, is a Total Fail. So back in the drawer for you, li’l filly! ) Rose is coming through loud and clear – but it’s making me nauseous unless it’s cut with something smoky. If I weren’t so damn old (and El O so damn snipped) I would suspect pregnancy. Luckily that is not possible, unless Gabriel came down and left a note that fell off the desk or something….if you see 3 guys on camels heading towards my house, could you ask them to make sure the frankincense and myrrh are perfume-grade? Thanks!
But enough about my ailin’ self. Let’s talk about collection. Since I cannot smell or taste much these days I have been amusing myself with reorganizing my perfume armoire …and reading more of Diane Ackerman’s The Zookeeper’s Wife. In one chapter, she writes of the zookeepers saving the collection of the noted entomologist/collector Szymon Tenenbaum – read this intriguing paragraph:
An insect collection is a silent oasis in the noisy clamor of the world, isolating phenomena so that they can be seen undistractedly. In that sense, what is being collected are not the bugs themselves but the deep attention of the collector……”collection” is a good word for what happens, because one becomes collected for a spell, gathering up one’s curiosity the way rainwater collects.
I thought that was just so…lyrical. And it holds true for any type of beloved collection, I think. though perhaps edible/wearable collections are a bit different. I see my collection of perfumes as a living thing, mostly to be used. But it isn’t always thus. Sometimes I get caught up in the collection itself, rather than the parts. I ogle the Cartier jewel-tone boxes that house Mme Laurent’s exquisite creations, the matte black boxes from Malle…the variations of elegance that is Dior and Chanel…and it’s time like that that I wonder if I’m in love with perfume or the collecting of perfume. This isn’t a judgement call, btw – I think there is room for any number of reasons why folks collect. But reading that paragraph made me wonder about why people collect – and what they do with their collections. My own perfume collection is modest by some measures, extravagant by others – and the reasons range from love of a certain fragrance or House, spanning eras, to the educational, which I reference-spritz so I can yark about it here but would never wear as mine own. And sometimes, like an insect collector, well…..sometimes I get an endorphin rush just cataloguing and organizing all the bottles and decants and samples. Reorganizing haphazardly placed decants and figuring out the best way to catalogue and store little 1ml samples so I can find them easily (each system is carefully thought out but like any interactive system, is reliant upon the vagaries of human nature. I am a medfly. Today’s system has no defense against tomorrow’s ADD)…it’s very calming to lay out a bunch of decants on a towel and, once again, try to figure out the most efficient way to organize them – should they go with their FullBottle brethren or should they repose in the ammo box section……at that point the fragrances themselves are meaningless; it’s all about the collection.
So how do you look at your collection? It doesn’t have to be a huge one, btw. If you have 2 bottles and a handful of samples, you have a collection. But what gives you the endorphin rush or the zen place? Do you get jazzed about the organization? Or could you not care less – it’s all about the juice and you don’t care if 31RC is laying up against that bottle of Angel. Or do you, like me, dance back and forth between those two? Or someplace entirely different?
excerpt from: The Zookeeper’s Wife – A War Story, by Diane Ackerman