A conversation elsewhere wandered off into perfumes--well, essential oil blends, rather; I for one can't wear commercial perfumes because they give me massive headaches--and I was recommended this site, and now I want to buy EVERYTHING. Which, you know, given that I don't have a lot of spare cash lying around is kind of a bad thing. But you can get six little sample vials, so I'm going to pick out some of their Shakespearean "Illyria" blends. It's driving me crazy, though, because I can't summon an olfactory image of what these blends smell like, so I can't choose. (You guyyyyyys! Can't you make up scratch-and-sniff samplers? Jeeeeeez.) I just know that I like light scents, flowers and fruit, particularly citrus fruit, but that my favorite scent is a tiny bottle of either apple or cherry blossom Hello Kitty perfume that I've had for twenty years. Shut up. I also wear jasmine or tangerine oil sometimes. That, and I read Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, and that first perfume that Grenouille re-mixes for the guy in Paris, when he's an apprentice? I think it was called "Amor et Psyche"? I can't remember exactly how it was described, but I remember thinking, "Damn, that perfume was, like, made for me." Except that it was fictional. Woe.
Wait, I found it (severely pared down):
The perfume was disgustingly good. It was fresh, but not frenetic. It was floral, without being unctuous. It possessed depth, a splendid, abiding, voluptuous, rich brown depth--and yet was not in the least excessive or bombastic. "It has a cheerful character, it's charming, it's like a melody, puts you in a good mood at once!"And that's why I love this book, because it's about chasing something that the English language is spectacularly deficient at expressing: the sense of smell. I mean, think about it: you can say something "smells like" an existing object, but most of the adjectives we use for scent are stolen from other senses--touch, taste, sight. Amor et Psyche is "not frenetic," it's not "unctuous," it has "depth," it's not "bombastic"--but none of these words actually describe smell. They describe motion, texture, sound--we just borrow words like these as metaphors for what smell is like. And just the way that Grenouille chases the perfect perfume, so do writers attempt to pin down scent with words at all.
"It's not very good, this Amor and Psyche, it's bad, there's too much bergamot and too much rosemary and not enough attar of roses."
"Orange blossom, lime, clove, musk, jasmine, alcohol, and something that I don't know the name of, there, you see, right there!" [Grenouille points to a bottle of storax.]
(P.S. "Oisín" benefits Neil Gaiman's Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. That's just... weird. Like, a "randomly running into someone you know... on vacation in Tokyo" kind of weird.)
ETA: Okay, I was on the Wanderlust (cities) page, and I noticed this blend:
R'LYEH. Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn. The sunken city of the Great God Cthulhu. A hellishly dark aquatic scent, evocative of fathomless oceanic deeps, the mysteries of madness buried under crushing black waters, and the brooding eternal evil that lies beneath the waves.
It's... they... I have to buy this.
ETA 2: Have decided on Neo-Tokyo, Tamora, Titania, Persephone, Siren, and Jezebel for my first sample set. (dark_geisha's reviews were a big help.) The awful thing is that I know I'll be buying a new set each month at this rate (Katharina! Vinland! Brisingamen! Endymion! Succubus! Florence! The Hanging Gardens! New Orleans! Glasgow! Kurukulla! Kitsune-Tsuki! Bordello! Kyoto! ARRRRGHHHHH PRETTY SMELLS).