Today is blog action day, and thousands of blogs are participating in order to bring attention to environmental issues - see link here. This put me in mind of something I read recently (in Scent of Desire by Rachel Herz - see my posting below) about the sense of smell. Her studies have shown that our sense of smell is known to have a strong and powerful connection to our deepest survival instincts. It connects directly to that part of the brain we share with the very earliest creatures that evolved to breath oxygen and live on the surface of mother Earth. Our strongest and most meaningful memories are created in contact with the environment and beauty around us, based mostly on what we directly experience as children. What we think of as the true smell of a rose is what we remember as the smell of a rose laid down in our brains as growing children. These experiences of the environment create the mental reality we will live in and reference the rest of our lives.
There is an interesting twist to this though, in the contemporary age we live in. Consider this -- that a rose on a bush emanates a fragrance made up of thousands of different molecules, acting on our brains and enriching our experience of the world in many complex and subtle ways. But also consider that now, generations have been born that have become so accustomed to the commercially produced rose fragrance, that is made up of one very strongly fragrant molecule alone. This one molecule is very pleasant but cannot provide all the complexity and dimension of the real thing. It is everywhere, though, and has become part of the fabric of our daily lives, because it is used to give the scent of rose to many of the products we surround ourselves with. It has now become the "real" scent of rose for many people, much preferred to the scent of a real rose on a bush, because it is what they know, and what they grew up knowing. It's quite a switch. I wonder if this will not also ultimately have impact on our sense of survival, to be so divorced from the experience of organic Nature itself, in reference to our deepest memories and emotional associations.
While it may be more economically viable to save the labor and natural resources it takes to produce a true rose absolute, it is equally important for us as human beings to remain connected intimately to that scent of natural rose, and all the rest of the scents produced organically by nature, all the other natural fragrance beauty that is out there. That is one reason why I am very glad that there has been a renaissance of natural perfumers, using natural elements to create beautiful fine fragrances, such as Mandy Aftel, Anya McCoy, Ayala Moriel, and many more and that there are more every day (The Artisan's Natural Perfumer's Guild has done so much to support and promote the efforts of these perfumers.) I am also very glad that there are now many larger companies's products, such as Aubrey, Avalon, Burt's Bees and others, that use natural and organic materials, affordable, well made and cruelty-free.