Scent in Science News

Harvard scientists genetically engineer mice who can “see light” to improve study of olfaction.

In his blog First Nerve sensory psychologist Avery Gilbert writes about scent at the intersection of science and pop culture.

Japanese developments in scent printers stir up controversy about olfactive technology for the 21st century. Read more skepticism here.

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Scents That Change Your Diet, Attitude and Destiny

San Francisco scent artist Yosh creates custom perfumes that double as aura attunements.

Some tips on how to select natural essential oils.

Jaipur shop corners the market on devotional scent.

One woman’s liver crisis transforms her into a super sniffer permanently altering her palate and diet.

Nosable News – November 2010

NYC political campaigns get even stinkier with olfactory assaults.

This is getting serious…the very first World Congress on Olfaction has just taken place in Paris. The French Maison de recherche has dubbed olfaction “the forgotten sense” but perhaps we might also think of it as the “remembering sense?”

We applaud the work of scent artist Sissel Tolaas who has been working on the olfactive mapping of world cities, but why Kansas City?

Ever wonder what Buzz Lightyear smelled on the moon? Olfactive artists bring new meaning to the term lunatic.

More nose news from the Bay Area and beyond coming soon. Stay tuned!

a novel for smelly, history-lovin slackers

** This review contains spoilers **

I avoided Tom Robbins’ novels for years particularly because my old boyfriend was such a fanatic about him and even when I was deep into him, we disagreed on most literature. The way he and his pretentious 20-something arty bros talked about Robbins put me off in a big way. Lately, I’ve been getting multiple nudges from friends who know I’ve been researching olfaction so I finally gave in and read Jitterbug Perfume for research.

My original instinct was correct: this is a novel for the all-male tribe I call “toilet philosophers” because most of the philosophy they read was while they were on the pot. Aside from its misogyny, the lamest thing about this novel is the spiritual message clumsily tacked onto the plot and heavily underscored in the last 40 pages.

I must admit that there are some admirable aspects about Jitterbug Perfume. It is well researched and I like the playful attitude towards myth, history, perfume and food. I found the narrative arc (minus the pseudo-spirituality) well crafted and interesting. For these reasons, it is worthwhile if you are curious.

What I cannot stand is the novel’s sloppy, infantile lewdness and its utterly misogynistic treatment of women. Each and every female character is about as deep as raindrop. In many ways, this novel is like a macho version of a Jackie Collins’ novel where the plot gets in the way of all the more important sex scenes and blowjobs.

Don’t get me wrong, I like sex scenes and Jackie Collins. The sex scenes in Jitterbug Perfume, however, feel like watching a really drunk fatso try to get his groove on as if he were James Bond. The detail with which blowjobs are described makes these scenes grotesque literary money shots. In Robbins’ perfumed porn, the women are gagging to be groped by slobs, crusty old lechers, handicapped, satyrs, and so on. It’s truly painful. This book had so much semen on the pages, I felt I needed to wash my hands after each time I picked it up.

And in case you think that sexual subservience can be some sort of “modern, women-choose-to-please-on-their-knees feminism,” it gets better. When the would-be heroine finally gets laid, her attempts to be sexy are mocked by the narrator’s painstaking description of how shamefuly ugly and ill-fitting her clothes and underwear are. Lucky for her, the handsome one-eyed Irishman is a horndog and she’s the only woman in the room. Except for the fat spinster, the female characters are all led by their vaginas despite their professional ambition. And that’s what turns out to be the main joke of the novel: that women have professional ambition at all.

The “lesbian” character never gets the girl she’s lusted after but settles instead for becoming her best pal. Sounds modern and empowering, right? Another female character is gruesomely stung by a bee on her perineum and luckily a creepy Frenchman is present to soothe her sting. Barf.

Other problems are Robbins’ really bad, self-indulgent puns, mixed metaphors and wrongheaded literary elbow nudges that seem designed to show the readers how well read he is since they add nothing to the plot. There are real groaners, for example, “a populace that was puting Descartes before des horse.”

Reading this novel made me so glad I left that Robbins’-lovin dude and his horny toilet philosophizing crew behind. Tom Robbins reminds me of other writers who combine vulgarity and humor (Vonnegut, Rabelais, Chaucer, Boris Vian, Alfred Jarry) but without their soul, intelligence, political engagement and verbal finesse. Read their work instead for hotter sex scenes, finer wit and more sophisticated style.

Scents that Heal

DON’T MISS THE LAST TALK OF THE SUMMER GARDEN SERIES

This Sunday September 12, 2010 1-2pm

Have you wondered why such potent incense wafts out of your acupuncturist or holistic therapist’s office? Kil-Young Yu, LAc, acupuncturist and herbalist at Oakland Community Acupuncture explains this and the medicinal properties of other odoriferous herbs in the Traditional Chinese Herb Garden at the University of California Botanical Garden.

Admission is free with general admission ($9 – discounts for seniors and students, FREE for UCB students).

ATTENDANCE IS LIMITED. Call 510-643-2755 to reserve  your spot.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SERIES…

Most garden enthusiasts are drawn to the magnificent visual display of the diverse landscapes at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley, CA. Why not give your eyes a break and the your nose lead you instead through the labyrinth of flowers, bushes, herbs and trees?

“What the Nose Knows” is a series of unique, interactive scent-based experiences of the UC Botanical Garden held in August and September 2010. Each event features a talk or walking tour with a scent expert in the Chinese Herb Garden, Asian and Californian sections. Guests will meet at the main Garden entrance just before 1pm.

News That Lingers (Labor Day Edition)

Public art therapy? Psychology today provides validation for the new scent art genre.

A Brief History of Perfume in the West by the Independent.

Scent hits the airwaves thanks to NPR’s discussion with smell scientists Stuart Firestein and Donald Wilson.

New Jersey’s de-stinking attempts are futile says online magazine Death + Taxes.

Good (Smelling) Reads for the long weekend. Click on the link for synopsis and reviews.

Mystery: Perfume by Patrick Süskind and Une Gourmandise (Gourmet Rhapsody) by Muriel Barbery

Comedy: Jitterbug Perfume Tom Robbins

Classics: Combray (in vol 1 of Remembrance of Things Past) by Marcel Proust and The Belly of Paris Emile Zola

Creative Non-Fiction: Victoire, les saveurs et les mots (Victoire, My Mother’s Mother) Maryse Condé

Eastern Inspiration: gilded lilies light up the Fog City summer

Inspired by the lovely golden flower from Japan, artisanal San Francisco-based perfumer INeKE and the Alembic are both currently serving up the Gilded Lily in the form of a seductive eau to parfum and a decadent cocktail.

The champagne cocktail takes its name from the stunning gold leaf sheen on the surface of the drink, capturing the delicate sweetness of its floral namesake with hints of herbaceous chartreuse, orange blossom water and gin softly transported to your nose and mouth by the gentle effervescence of demi sec.

INeKE translates the Asiatic lily more literally from the gorgeous muse blooming in her front garden into a sexy modern chypre fragrance with a soft whisper of fruit.

Angelinos will be lucky to get the first sniff of Gilded Lily eau de parfum at its Nordstrom launch tomorrow and Saturday (8.27 + 8.28) in Santa Monica.

INeKE’s latest addition to its perfume alphabet – G for Gilded – will be available in late September 2010 online or at the following SF retailers:

Azalea 411 Hayes Street      Nest 2300 Fillmore Street       Gumps 135 Post Street      Carrots 843 Montgomery Street      Circle & Square 344 Presidio Street.

Learn A-F of INeKE’s  perfume ABCs by ordering the gorgeous deluxe sample set at only $25 online. OR try them in person at Fred Segal in LA at 500 Broadway and in NYC at Henri Bendel at 712 5th Ave, Takashimaya at 693 Fifth Avenue and The Plaza Beauty at One West 58th Street.

Hungry For STINK (International Edition)

Brazilians bring smell-o-vision back in new advertising campaign.

And in the Northern Hemisphere Canadian student works towards ScentWare development.

NJ aims to overpower garbage stink with synthetic perfume blast.

LA-based scent artist puts a new spin on the art of perfume and narrative.

Ancients vs Moderns? Read the story of a perfume renegade from France who honors natural perfumery and Sufism.

Parsons School of Design experiments with new olfactory media.

Tea Time

This SUNDAY August 29, 2010 1-2pm

Join Olfactive and Toshiko Ueda, educator at the Urasenke Foundation San Francisco and proprietor of Atelier B Pastry in San Francisco gives a presentation on the role of scent in Japanese tea ceremony in What the Nose Knows series at the University of California Botanical Garden.

Admission is free with general admission ($9 – discounts for seniors and students, FREE for UCB students).

ATTENDANCE IS LIMITED. Call 510-643-2755 to reserve  your spot.

*     *     *

DON’T MISS THE LAST TALK OF THE SUMMER GARDEN SERIES!

September 12, 2010 1-2pm    Scents that Heal

Have you wondered why such potent incense wafts out of your acupuncturist or holistic therapist’s office? Kil-Young Yu, LAc, acupuncturist and herbalist at Oakland Community Acupuncture explains this and the medicinal properties of other odoriferous herbs in the Traditional Chinese Herb Garden.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SERIES…

Most garden enthusiasts are drawn to the magnificent visual display of the diverse landscapes at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley, CA. Why not give your eyes a break and the your nose lead you instead through the labyrinth of flowers, bushes, herbs and trees?

“What the Nose Knows” is a series of unique, interactive scent-based experiences of the UC Botanical Garden held in August and September 2010. Each event features a talk or walking tour with a scent expert in the Chinese Herb Garden, Asian and Californian sections. Guests will meet at the main Garden entrance just before 1pm.

iSmell?

3D is SO 2009… olfactory ScentWare is on its way to your computer, flavor changeling cookies and fragrances to give you a deluxe driving experience are now available for purchase.

Tech companies like DigiScent and TriSenx, Inc are reaching the final frontier in virtual reality by designing ScentWare for home computers.

The Japanese have successfully created the Meta Cookie system, which is a flavoring system created to trick your tastebuds and noses.

New Car smell for 2010? Audi’s Nose Team enhances your ride by paying attention to all the driver’s senses.

The current issue of arty interview magazine Mono.Kultur from Berlin, Issue 32, features a scent-only story by renowned scent artist Sissel Tolaas. Check back on Olfactive to find out about our upcoming event celebrating Tolaas’ innovative narrative form.

Read more news stories in olfactory technology, gastronomy, arts, literature and medicine at NOSE IN THE NEWS.