September 2, 2006

The Sense of Smell and Culture

Recently I met with a "Culture Circle" group and brought as my contribution the samples of Ineke Ruhland - the four samples in her package, which have been reviewed beautifully and in depth by Legerdenez (see here for her wonderful posts on these fragrances). The Culture Circle idea is that a small group of people, about a dozen, meet about once a month and each brings an example of a creative cultural expression that they are excited about or that moves and inspires them, and then shares it with the others. Like a Dead Poets Society kind of thing, staying up late and talking about art, like we all used to do in our school days. It was my first meeting and I was the first ever to bring scent for their consideration and direct experience. An interesting point made was that many realized they don't think much about or stay aware of their sense of smell, even though it is obviously working all the time, and a few people said that because they now realize that they want to actively expand and fully develop all their senses it was good to be reminded of and to focus on this particular sense, with examples of artistry designed for it, because this directly powerful connection to memory can deepen and enliven an active experience of life continuously. These particular four fragrances are a carefully crafted distillation of beauty inspired by everyday life, and I think it was a successful beginning for me and for the idea of scent as an art form for them. Especially in the context of the other offerings, among which were beautifully performed pieces of music and poetry, a well told story, photography and a handmade object pieced together from carefully chosen special fabrics and colors. The fragrances and couple of small paintings I brought were a contrast because sense of smell and visual art are silent forms of communication, meant to evoke a strong connection to the subconscious and the physical body. They are not acts of performance as such, like music or dance or the reading of poetry or other writing can be, but act quietly. These sensual forms of art can contain a primal energy which can powerfully expand and complete the body's own mindful connection with the glorious and sometimes difficult natural and social world.
See www.ineke.com for more information on Ineke Perfumer-San Francisco.
See here about the Culture Circle concept.
Above illustration is a Persian miniature of a poet's meeting.

5 comments:

Jennifer said...

What a wonderful sounding group you are apart of; I really love the concept. Its great that you brought a fragrance too often fragrances are not viewed as a art

chaya ruchama said...

Dear Luccia-

It sounds like you'll be back for more...reminds me of how the ancients taught.

The paintings you brought with you- were they your own?

I LOVE that miniature !

Several years ago, we had a poetry evening, my colleagues and I.
It was magical, because we hailed from so many different countries and cultures...we read in our native languages.

There was an abundance of very good wine and single malt,cheeses and breads, fruits, and homemade Cajun gator sausage one woman brought from Louisiana.

We read Gaelic poetry, Goethe's Sorcerer's Apprentice , Hafiz,e.e. cummings, Anne Sexton, Neruda, Akhmatova,Prevert...

My girlfriend sang Russian folk songs, another played percussion, I sang a capella [a wide variety of material, from bluegrass to chanson, Kurt Weill].

We all lay curled around one another like odalisques...

This occurred but once-
Perhaps some sorcery can't be replicated...

Lucy said...

Now I am addicted, I wish they met every week. I really like the personal quality of receiving such inspiration and cultural energy from individuals in a small group. There was one particular haunting Hungarian song that I can't get out of my head since, which has been posted to the site (link is in the post). I had brought two small oval paintings of my own along with the perfumes. Now I am thinking about what I will bring for next time. There's a book of photographs and writing on the human animal bond that I really like, called "People I Sleep With" which may be next...

Cait Shortell said...

Dear Lucy,
Wow, this sounds pretty compelling. I am trying to imagine many of the people I see on a daily basis, workaday professional types, engaging on this level. I would like to see that. I think many would shy away from the intensity.

Lucy said...

Yes, it was quite a wide diversity of people, with a range of backgrounds and types of jobs. Their action to connect and share enthusiasm in regard to some element of creativity or personal inspiration is pretty inspiring in and of itself...