Monday, December 10, 2007

the power of a scent

i cannot get enough of this book, my name is red (see my previous post). in the chapter i just read a gossip-monger discusses the finer points of interpreting a letter between former lovers that, at least in written form, suggests the man should stop visiting the woman's father's home (she writes "It'd be best if you stopped coming to our house completely.")

the gossip-monger, illiterate but attuned to social ways, then discusses the finer analysis of letters. she writes many points, but here is the one that stuck with me:

Furthermore, the smell of the letter confirms [the love letter] interpretation. The fragrance was faint enough to be ambiguous -- did she intentionally perfume the letter?--yet alluring enough to fire readers' curiosity--is this the aroma of attar or the smell of her hand? And a fragrance, which was enough to enrapture the poor man who read the letter to me, will surely have the same effect on Black [the former lover].
many years ago (again i excavate, deep into my memories) a friend gave me a book that she had spilled COPIOUS amounts of perfume on. she apologized profusely. but what a treat to return to that book months and years after and still have the smell and associated memories. my brain is a smell-memory powerhouse. i remember how disappointed i was when perhaps 7 years after the perfume spill the book had finally no trace of the scent. sometimes i smell the scent again, when i wander, and it always puts me right back to those playful days.


neha said...

one day, in 20 years, you'll smell something like the poison and you will feel warm and happy, reminded of the present.

omar said...

i think you may be right. jono recently told me that smells are the best sense for connecting to memories in terms of both the strength of the tie and the rapidness of retrieval. i wish i had a pen that i could deploy scents with.. then i'd try to connect scent to text.