Scented Thoughts: Perfume List-Making and The Meaning of It

For whatever reasons people decide to compile lists, and lists of perfumes in particular, I find the results of this activity to be usually both interesting and entertaining as well as informative for the consumers that we are. The activity itself is fascinating, pointing to a seemingly innate urge to categorize the world and bring added meaning to it. Making lists is also a cataloguing activity; we want to store knowledge and preserve it in a clear and accessible way. How do we classify fragrances and symbolically re-work the ready-made, packaged material presented to us by perfume brands? How do we symbolically re-order nature and society through the classification of scents? What values are expressed through that activity? How aesthetically satisfying can lists be? These are some of the questions I want to raise.

Lists, furthermore, are fun, beautiful, creative, personal, normative, erudite, informative, etc. They reflect a critical and selective activity and usually are meant to be helpful as well as be aesthetic pronouncements pointing to a more ideal world. They tell us what they think are "the best of" and where to find meaning, beauty, and harmony. They also offer us condensed, essential information. So, I've decided I will post lists of perfumes or of perfume-related information I come accross. I will probably pitch in too at some point. Don't hesitate to chime in to let us know what you would have put in any given list.

Tomorrow, I will post a list regarding the types of fragrances that certain types of men should be wearing.

Photo is from Institut Très Bien. It is a beautiful, poetical list of perfume notes. No selection here obviously, except in the choice of words, like Siam instead of Thailand. An a priori boring commercial list of ingredients is turned into a little work of art.

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