Saturday, July 17, 2010

Eustace Tilley Cogitates

We stopped paying attention to The New Yorker when they began publishing letters from readers (honestly, WGAS?). A bonus is that we’ve been spared the too-too predictable political ruminations of Hendrik Hertzberg masquerading as Talk of the Town. But that’s neither here nor there.

What drew our attention today was a post on The New Yorker books blog by someone named Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn. (We’ve never met the lady but whenever we say her name out loud we see Margaret Dumont and we want to waggle our eyebrows at her.)

What put Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn (waggle-waggle) in a posting mood was the launch by Fresh of a trio of fragrances “inspired by” (read: “trying to cash in on the popularity of”) the chick-lit blockbluster Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. [No relation—Ed.] [Nor would we ever read her book; our testosterone titers would flatline.—Ed.]

Ms. Foley-Mendelssohn’s no doubt very lady-like knickers (shade-grown organic hemp fabric colored with all-natural ecologically harvested annatto pods) were in a twist because she failed to find a textual basis in Gilbert’s novel for the theme notes in the perfumes.

(Yes: she word-searched the book for “smell” and didn’t find mango, sandalwood or juniper berry.)

Having tried our hand at olfacto-literary deconstruction in What the Nose Knows, we actually rather admire Deirdre (waggle) Foley-Mendelssohn’s (waggle-waggle) Birkenstock-serious approach to extracting scents from books. But in this case she is bested by Lez Glazman, fragrance director of Fresh, who says
I found myself trying to translate the words into scents. With each scent, I had the chance to create another emotion. And I also created them so that consumers can wear them together—each scent is a different chapter of experience.
Ms. Glazman, being a marketer and therefore not a deep thinker, effortlessly subscribes to the conventional wisdom that smell is all about emotion. Cue the music:
Feelings, nothing more than feelings,
trying to forget my feelings of love.
Teardrops rolling down on my face,
trying to forget my feelings of love.
D (w) F-M (w-w) has science on her side: the evolving view of smell is overwhelmingly cognitive, not emotional. But when it comes to perfume marketing, icky emotion beats cognition, memory and meaning every time.

BONUS: Lest you think we’re being too harsh on Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn, here’s a photo of her with her mother in Havana listening raptly to a speech by aging communist dictator and gasbag Fidel Castro.

All hail Freedonia! (waggle-waggle).


~x~ said...

why can't there be one for bridget jones' diary?
it would smell like booze
and hope for no reason
(is there any other kind?)

o wait
isn't that habanita?

Anonymous said...

"D (w) F-M (w-w)".

Great! Really, really love your style :)