Feb 18, 2008

christopher brosius

after finding the black phoenix alchemy lab, i began keeping an eye out for more people making a big deal of smell as a holder for memory.

i came on christopher brosius entirely by accident -- his pages of bottles had been highlighted at Ministry of Type as an example of things that delight by repetition and change.

on clicking through, i was amused to see that brosius hates perfume. he has a manifesto, which includes the following paragraph:

I hate perfume. Perfume is too often an ethereal corset trapping everyone in the same unnatural shape. A lazy and inelegant concession to fashionable ego. Too often a substitute for true allure and style. An opaque shell concealing everything – revealing nothing. A childish masque hiding the timid and unimaginative. An arrogant slap in the face from across the room. People who smell like everyone else disgust me.
so that was pretty neat, but i was hooked by the specificity and precision of the stories connected to the bottles. for example:
A Secret History, Winter 1972: A field of untouched new fallen snow, hand knit woolen mittens covered with frost, a hint of frozen forest & sleeping earth.

I recall clearly the scent of that winter air. It was not at all a pine scent and had nothing to do with cinnamon or spices. It was the blue frozen scent of fresh snow and silver stars. It was a scent that spoke to my young brain of remembering what was and realizing what will come. It was the sleeping scent of spring now frozen beneath the snow.
and also,
The Fir Tree: Fir trees in the forest with a touch of frozen earth

This is a story by Tove Jansson. Supposedly for children, it is one of my favorites even now.
(i have to clarify here that i like the idea better than the reality -- it's an alluring thought that scents can conjure up time past, but most of the attempts fall flat. the descriptions, however, can be quite inventive. i'm sure they work for some people somewhere.)

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