Unlock a Door
Poetry of the unquantifiable. Ask people to describe fragrance and it is striking how one is almost instantly transported to a language chimera where the fluid association between texture, memory, place, color and emotion combine in an inevitably imperfect attempt to communicate the essence of an evocative Something without definite form, shape, or quality. An evanescent ghost that is greater than the sum of its molecular parts. A romantic sum uncertain, fragrance transports us between and to incrementally discrete moments of time that are at once immeasurable, and yet somehow undeniably measured on a most visceral level!
Perfume unlocks a Door and is the liquid medium of Time Travel. We fall in love; we scrub it off; we admire cerebrally-but removed, without being charmed on an emotional level. Sometimes we nuzzle in closer; or are unimpressed and then an hour later catch a glimpse-just a glimpse of What is That Amazing Smell! We grasp a fleeting suggestion or reference point- a taste, earth, tobacco, the mineral content of rain, a color, a feeling, or another place in time less receded into the distance just for a moment or perhaps understood for the very first time.
We visit a Moroccan Souk, or a courtiers’ palace; are late for work or anxiously lost in a foreign place; recall the unselfconscious laughter of a dear friend or grandmother’s kitchen. We briefly find ourselves among the glitterati in Capri, the forest after rain, and encounter crisp winter air and the lingering nearly imperceptible scent of our Love’s leather jacket. It is childhood again. The wondrous discovery of a shortcut and a seaside boardwalk promenade with the promise of taffy, waffle cones and salty sea air beckons! A bonfire on the beach and the feel of cool sheets against sunscreen-sticky sunburned skin awaits.
Through fragrance, we encounter the suggestion of leather, an allusion to velvet, old book smell, and confront the jarring odd pleasantness of gasoline and glue. We find crisp white paper, sawdust from grandfather’s workshop, and fresh ink. We meet an icy film noir femme fatale or spend a languorous Sunday afternoon in the garden. We remember the feeling of a crisp early autumn evening; Mom called us to dinner and when we walked up the familiar driveway, the warmth of the kitchen lights silhouetted her comforting routine preparations.
That autumn evening was not mine-it is not my memory. But, it is or it can be with some rare alchemy of liquid plus association plus the poetry of some lab somewhere, in which some Perfumer has spoken to us through their tremendous Art. And through this deeply personal art, we are delivered of symphony that resonates with who we are or want to be. How we experience and perceive it reflects the rare sum of all the preceding moments that brought us to this instant and this fragrance. We experience dissonance, resonance, dichotomies, seamless transition and jarring rides that are worthwhile in and of themselves. Crystallized experiences that move us from on point to another, yet we leave behind without a backward glance.
And yet, even as our lives and who we are is experienced as the sum of all those near imperceptible moments and choices that pass through each other on the way to the next, Perfume too is experienced as the sum of all its ephemeral nuances. We speak about top notes and heart notes and basenotes (perhaps very similar to who we are and what we reveal to others about ourselves and on what fluidly immeasurable timeline?)
Perfume unfolds as an expression of its many elemental parts-and how we perceive and describe these fleeting and nuanced instants in time is imperfectly expressed by language-its inherent limitations and lack of true universal meaning about subtle distinctions or connotations. It is an indefinite language, movement, rhythm, and texture evolving without the reassuring quality of sum certainty or a fixed moment in time.
How do I measure instants in time or describe the qualities of an infinitesimal progression of moments, the transition of which are inextricably connected but yet near seamlessly distinct. How do I express something without form-but consisting instead of motion, movement, that at one instant is and then isn’t. Or transition within me? How do I quantify some strange dimension that must reconcile altogether differing elements of time, space, form, perception, association, texture, and memory. What unifying theory or universal language has the capacity to convey the experience of fragrance and our response to it? And what map is there for this uniquely personal journey? None.
It is a Romantic undertaking to try to measure the metes and bounds of a fragrance, commit to memory the contours of its dynamic essence, to express the heartbreakingly evocative nature and appeal of this elusively lovely abstraction. We are inexplicably drawn to revisit an old friend, or continue the search for the One Perfect Perfume on the installment basis – vial after vial, with the vast Possibility inherent in the new release or the most recent blogger’s review. Maybe we have resigned to be forever shipwrecked without ever having found The One. As Shakespeare said-“One shade the more, one ray the less…… “
Instead of that autumn evening that was not mine, my memory is of Dzing! and a chance encounter after wandering into a promising little boutique on a sunny day. My first experience of a “niche” fragrance was the root cause of a passionate curiosity about perfume. I soon realized that rather than undertaking a simple journey to find my perfect fragrance, I had embarked upon an odyssey of exponential proportion. Although the exploration itself is enjoyable, my level of discretion was evolving and I was increasingly looking for a very special fragrance among perfume offerings, the number of which was overwhelming. The near limitlessness nature of fragrance, it turns out is quite limiting! Without the narrowing of alternatives through purposeful curation that reflects thoughtful discernment, a consumer is unlikely to find the fragrance they are looking for. “You can’t get there from here”!
Why the name Pure Calculus of Perfume? Calculus deals with instants in time, or points in space and the sequences of fleeting moments or places. The combined sum of distances that each of those instantaneous moments took us though. It is the language of describing things that change from moment to moment or point to point. It is a language that expresses intuitive ideas that are instinctively felt and understood.
That this Pure Calculus, devoid of any purpose or function other than the pure transitory joy of experience, is the codification of some perfumer’s painstakingly impassioned interpretation of an unspoken, universally extant language locked in our hearts and unconscious sum of all our experiences, is pure poetry- the calculation of the interstices, the Betweens, and intervals of perception. How utterly Romantic is that?
We look forward to helping you get from Point A to Point B – and all those lovely instants in between!
The inimitable Mr. White and Colleen