“ SCENT IS A SPIRIT THAT SHAPES OUR SHADOW…….” : ODOR 93 by MEO FUSCIUNI (2015)

There are not so many ‘dark’ tuberoses. But Odor 93 is a perfect example of one : it is gorgeous. While some of the perfumes in this mystical Italian brand’s arsenal are too intense or freakishly experimental for my personal taste – the rum-drenched rotting pineapple of Notturno ( so bizarre ! ), or the strange cloying aromaticized balsamic musks of Oblivion (L’Obblio)- which D has unexpectedly taken a shining to; the curious jagged potency of Narcotico; Odor 93 speaks to me directly and will become a part of my personal armory.

Like a tuberosed Vol De Nuit, this shadowy, fungal amber has notes of narcissus, sage, cumin, birch leaves, clove, tobacco, patchouli and vetiver over a powdery vanilla from which protrudes, undaunted, a continuous, fresh living tuberose. While at first I was slightly put off by the jarringly dark, earth-bound elements, these have gradually become addictive (“L’Odore e L’anima che disegna la nostra anima”) and an essential part of this unusual perfume’s appeal.

Plus: unlike too, too many niche perfumes which are weird for weirdness’s sake, Odor 93 is very harmonious on skin, gradually losing some of the tenebrous savour of the beginning and gaining a tuberose clarity within a light vanilla backdrop that leaves you in no doubt who is the main player here. For tuberose lovers and those who like Vol De Nuit and Mystere (two of my personal touchstones), Odor 93 is very highly recommended.



An integral aside : ( related to Odor 93 ):

January and February was one of, if not the, most stressful experiences of my life; essentially, I short circuited from anger and the stress from all the idiocy and oblivion around me, which led to my current problems with vertigo, although the larger fury and despair have largely dissipated in the last few weeks when I have ‘found myself ‘ again. I need not to let myself restart fizzing at the gills because I must avoid electrical burnout (but going back to work tomorrow…..,windows will open wherever I turn, no matter the consequences…. )

Inhale.

Control yourself. Retain equilibrium.

( But Japanese government: third largest economy in the world :

HURRY

UP

WITH

THE

FUCKING

VACCINE

!

!

!

i

!

……

…… …………. …..but back to Odor 93.

This perfume played a curious role on one of the worst days during that ultra tumultuous period when COVID-19 was in one of my schools and the two affected teachers when they came back still refused to open windows out of some fucked up notion of ‘stamina’ or ‘selflessness’ (just writing about it now is making my heart beat very rapidly with rage- I think I have had too much coffee, I need to watch it); anyway, just when I had contended with witnessing three paramedics coming into the schooling evening in full emergency suits and an afflicted student sat in a tiny windowless interview room with dozens of students milling by (USELESS lack of proper action; it turned out he had a collapsed lung that was non corona related but the school should so obviously have been evacuated as a sensible precaution);seeing this scene and standing a metre away from the motionless boy sent me into an anxiety attack ( ‘the world around me is insane ‘ type thing); this is just one of many instances that pushed me over the brink and tumbling rapidly down the rabbit hole of labyrinthitis.

The icing on the cake was our landlord’s decision – arigato! – despite my pleas, to send in workmen – something I hate at the best of times – at precisely the time I was in desperate need of complete quiet and calm.

You will have read the plum and plumbing story about the kitchen flooding fiasco; the bath was also blocked – so I was relieved to get that sorted even though it involved a set of lumbering uncouthed geriatric odd job people plundering through our house: at least we were finally able to properly bathe and shower again.

What truly could have waited, though, and he could SEE what a stressed out state I was in, was the floorboards upstairs, which had worn thin : there were even a couple of holes – but covered with carpet – that we had been living with for years. THERE WAS NO NEED. NOT THEN.

But no. My attitude was considered ‘selfish’- so we had to spend an entire weekend, just at the time we needed to be recuperating from the corona horror, moving everything upstairs, leading to violent arguments ( D completely lost it, hitting the furniture.)

The next day, knowing these oafs would be invading the house for part one, I fled, if you recall, to the Atami Plum Blossom Park, which was very beautiful. In the upstairs computer room, bare, I had sprayed a scent strip heavily with Odor 93, just because I wanted something beautiful among the chaos, to come home to ; and left the window open.

When I got home, the creamy spectral ghost of Fracas was floating in the room, which was the first time I realized how charming the scent was in its final soliflore stages. I decided to leave it there as a provisional room-scenter – I love coming into a space, a particular room, and being met by a distinctive smell that fuses with time and space – not that this was a time I particularly care to reminisce over ( I am getting a headache writing this).

*

I had been told that if there was rain the next day, ‘they’ would not be coming. I looked at the weather forecast – heavy rain – with deep gratitude. Tuesday is the beginning of my week, and in the morning and early afternoon before teaching I need quiet ; to just chill out reading the newspaper, do some exercise, take a bath, be alone. Teaching – especially with you and them all in face masks – requires a great deal of energy; I am the kind of teacher who engages with each student on an emotional, even psychic, level – and it takes a lot out of me. The second the rain stopped and I heard the truck pull up outside I was sweating no, no, no in desperation. Please tell me they haven’t just arrived outside. NO!!!

But the spades and hammers and electrics and planers and screwdrivers were already knocking on my door; I had just woken up properly, still had morning breath, greasy bedhair, in my thermals, yet before I knew it they were traipsing up the stairs without even proper greetings, using the toilet without asking, trampling through my bedroom and onto the balcony to set up the cables. Grabbing my work stuff I hastily showered – one of them at one point opened the bathroom door and I yelped at them to get out – I was hot/cold clammy and outraged – I had been TOLD specifically they wouldn’t come on a rain day ; much worse was next :

I had closed the door of the room with the hole because I didn’t want the cat to get trapped in the roof and had explicitly instructed them as such. One of these unblinking fuckers, carrying a big electric drill on his shoulder then promptly opened the door upon which Mori of course then immediately plunged straight down into the void.

I would like to say that I didn’t push or slap the man in question slightly in anger but this would not be true. He was looking through me as if I didn’t exist, like something from Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. But I had to get to work, and now the cat’s meow was echoing around the house like the little lost girl in Poltergeist, and these fools were just making it worse with their insensate stompings that were making her disappear further and further into the ceiling.

She would meow, then come to the surface, and then when I would coax her in a ‘here, kitty kitty’ type plea (a voice I never use: they say cats don’t have owners, but slaves : that has never been me, she gets one chance to come in when she meows at the door and then it closes again: I am the boss), which is of course why she wasn’t falling for it. And why she kept going and going back in.

Exasperating isn’t the word for it : I wanted to wring her neck. Why now ? The workers tried stamping strategically to drive her out, and eventually, after an eternity, she rushed out fearfully and twinkle footed her way sheepishly onto the balcony., jumping across to the neighbour’s roof, and softly disappearing.

I left immediately after that, where I went to a park, to try to calm down : but broke out into full body hives.

*

I still haven’t put up Screaming Cassandras, which details this horrendous period and the overwhelming frustration of Japan’s attitude towards the coronavirus. Yes, I know that it has done well compared to Europe and the USA, but it has had more deaths – around 9,500, than South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Laos, Vietnam, Mongolia, Cambodia, Thailand, New Zealand, Singapore, and Australia COMBINED. It will not enforce vaccination of athletes and staff coming for the Olympics, nor enforce quarantines. We are not likely to get a vaccine before July/August when the Olympics start, so with all the people congregating and fraternizing there could very easily be a disastrous superspreader event with new variants and we will all be unprotected: – the ‘restrictions’ here, such as closing bars and restaurants early ( PATHETIC!) are totally useless. Like Taiwan and Australia, Japan is surrounded by water. It could EASILY have a far better situation if it were more decisive and proactive. But it will not. So despite what seems like histrionics on my part here ( I don’t think it is : I have had severe pneumonia twice before; have had knee disintegration due to arthritic deterioration of the cartilage which could be auto-immune related : I am basically healthy and vibrant but don’t like my chances with long Covid, which I can’t even read about it terrifies me so much, and I am in a situation without sufficient ventilation every working day – you see why it has all crescendoed up to this, don’t you ?). Yes, I am highly aware that there are millions the world over with their own personal tales of woe far, far worse than my own neurasthenic drama, but I still don’t think it negates my own situation. And I am not afraid to speak out.

I found one piece of paper from ‘that period’ yesterday in the tidy up; I am ( mercifully ) not sure where the rest of it is : I might save it for my Japan book in expunged and edited form if I am still alive to write it. One interesting thing, though, wearing and thinking again about Odor 93 this afternoon (sorry, I went somewhat ‘off track’ – actually I didn’t at all ) – is one curious coincidence.

In the strange fable that accompanies the perfume, written by Meo Fusciuni, in which The Flower waits for The Animal for ninety three nights in a ‘dark forest in the north of the world’, at the end of the tale, which reminds me of the hole in the floor and the cat disappearing down it and both nights, calm restored, coming back to the scent strip left undisturbed on the wooden side of the window radiating tuberose :

“ Listening inside me, the emptiness, the immense space that comes from below. ..

Get the flower. Close your eyes to smell it…. nothing more now.

..In the black room in silence, there lives a cat ….”

17 Comments

Filed under Flowers

17 responses to ““ SCENT IS A SPIRIT THAT SHAPES OUR SHADOW…….” : ODOR 93 by MEO FUSCIUNI (2015)

  1. Trying to coax a cat back inside after it has escaped is a good metaphor for the situation. In the beginning we had Japan’s pride to contend with. Many thought their self-perceived unique biology would save them. Wrong on all counts! (The Japanese government supposedly even requested additional information from vaccine suppliers that was not required by any other country, so that took longer.) Then there was the smugness that Japan had a mask-wearing culture. The media ate that one up, but there are many details not included in that blanket statement. Lots of women and students wore masks outside of hospitals, but…they didn’t usually wear them all day at work or at school. Men m-i-g-h-t wear them in hay fever season. They took them off at their convenience to answer the phone, eat lunch, and so on. Or, they would wear one but not cover their nose. (This is a problem.) Few people wore them all day, every day throughout the entire year. As a result, people even in Japan are complaining about skin problems and general discontent with the situation. And, these are the people that actually wear masks correctly!
    There’s a greatly visible subgroup that either wears no mask in public on busy streets or packed trains or the ones that usually have their mask below their nose, mouth, or chin. I have watched them remove their masks partially or completely on the train and then put them back on to get off the train. Do they understand how viruses work? Obviously not if they think a packed train in Tokyo is safe. They don’t notice because they are either oblivious to the mask’s contact with their skin or they are so used to carelessly wearing them that they never notice. By the way, unofficial reports declare that these culprits are usually male—not always but usually.
    Then add foam masks in cute colours that are supposedly good for blocking pollen but not viruses. Groan…
    The large population with a great number of elderly means that it will take about five years to vaccinate all adults. In Japan, unlike other countries, pharmacists are not allowed to give vaccines to patients. That will slow things down, especially if the medical staff at hospitals are already overwhelmed. Add to this the fact that Japan, contrary to its image, does not handle problems or unusual situations well. They are great with the routine but shut down when problem solving is required. An interim government filling in until the next election is probably not much help either. And, the government constitution prevents them from legally requiring people to stay home. Past actions that led to wars resulted in this inability to declare lockdowns.
    This means people who would be in quarantine in contracted hotels elsewhere get to go home as long as they promise to stay there for two weeks. This is after closely sitting beside other travelers in immigration, waiting to declare this. Even with the Olympics, athletes and coaches basically do not have to be in quarantine for two weeks. People from all over the world with exposure to various mutations living in close quarters in the Olympic housing. Oi vay!
    And, the large number of idiots who gleefully want to volunteer or watch.
    I could go on and on and on…

    • My god Michelle ….

      Utterly terrifying to read ( and equally fascinating ).

      I think me and D are the men you talk about : on one minute with the mask, off the next – although never half on: the nose thing freaks me out as well….

      Why do you say five years ? That is terrifying to contemplate in the extreme.

  2. Lesley Rose

    I love the beautifully intricate description of Odor 93, which lead into the chaotic rampage of the completely and utterly school fiasco. The windows should be open. PERIOD. Maybe it’s worth spraying the school down in the most disgusting sulphuric, rotting flesh scent of the damned as possible to force the ventilation to happen.
    It’s truly irresponsible of your workplace to not properly ventilate. It’s even recommended by the Japanese Government to do so. At the school I teach we had windows opened in the middle of winter and everybody wore jackets and such as to avoid any possible covid contamination. It sounds as though they really don’t care for the well being of the community.
    It’s truly disheartening also, to be in such a “clean” country but to see half assed masked businessmen and careless customer service clerks with zero care of protecting others.
    I went off on the 7-11 fucker as he was installing new refrigerator shelving non-masked! Around food.
    And as for the vaccines, Japan could’ve been halfway vaccinated if they had rolled out properly. At this rate, it will take 186 years to vaccinate the population.
    I too suffer from autoimmune disorders, have had pneumonia and bronchitis many times. I’m high-risk and I HATE how careless Japan has half-assed this situation. And we as foreigners are left to think WTActual FUCK Japan?
    How could this happen?

    • Oh Lesley…

      I am laughing at the way you tell it but also horrified by what it all means. Yes. As with Michelle’s comments above, it is gratifying to have my thoughts and opinions corroborated : we all live here age presumably love it in our own ways but that doesn’t mean the country is above criticism. Japan sometimes has a ‘beyond criticism ‘ aspect that is bullshit : too holier than thou, particularly considering how badly we are doing compared to much of Asia. ‘Cases’ never reflects how many people actually have it as we all know, and you and in our teaching environments are basically playing Russian roulette every day. It is supremely stressful on a day to day basis and has really taken a toll on so many of us.

  3. Odor 93 is such a beautiful creation! I love that one. You might also enjoy Luce. On another note, I too went through months of dealing with vertigo. I eventually found someone who took it out of my head, which was one of the weirdest and scariest procedures I have ever experienced, but it did the trick.

    • What do you mean, “took it out of my head’? Please tell me more ( and was it really months??) To be honest, even if it takes ages I take solace that there is at least a possible end to it. My cousin had it badly for six weeks and then it just stopped.

      I am actually open to anything: a very good friend of mine is going to come down soon and do Buddhist chanting in the forest to drive out whatever is afflicting me. If you don’t mind, I would love to hear more ….

  4. Heya Neil,
    I’ve just finished work and there are too many words here for me to deal with. I promise to come back though and give the post the attention it deserves.
    Hugs and love from sunny Sydney.
    Portia xx

    • It is most certainly a mindfuck and probably deserves nothing in truth.

      Sunny in Sydney sounds perfect though : I hope you are thriving in the new job.

      And do you know this perfume ? I am adoring this today.

  5. Tora

    Oh god, Neil. I would be insane with what you have been dealing with. I was fascinated and terrified reading this. Your cat! Here we too, have the idiots who refuse to wear masks all over the US. The fourth surge is coming. Hopefully, enough of us old folks have been vaccinated so the death toll will not be as bad as it could. I can not imagine dealing with your working conditions. I would be scared all day long. My heart is jumping just reading about your travails. I hope the construction ends soon and summer vacation is coming up soon. Do you all have summer off in Japan?

    • Basically it needs a maverick like me: I am simply not going to tolerate it any longer and will be ventilating like fuck wherever I go like Moses commanding the waves. Windows WILL be opened throughout the buildings, and just let anyone try and stop me. The tiny slithers of air they have, with rooms packed with students, have been psychologically horrific for me, as will be evident from my extreme reactions. I was claustrophobic already : that plus a killer virus in a crowded country where people are too obedient and passive has led to extreme physiological consequences. Everyone has had their own stress, be it isolation and loneliness or financial hardship or the devastation of losing loved ones. Mine probably pales in comparison, but for me personally it has been intolerable nonetheless.

  6. It all sounds so terribly overwhelming. I cannot even imagine dealing with all these hoorid situations you are dealing with; hell I would spray myself copiously with Odor 93 whenever I was around others, just to keep them socially distanced.
    We went out for a drive on Easter Sunday, staying in the car the whole time, and was shocked at how many people I saw without masks and shoulder to shoulder with other waiting to get in to restaurants, at an icecream shop, etc… It just left me flabbergasted.
    I am also amazed at the numbers of people who are not going to get vaccinated, for their own stupid, selfish reasons; spouting off stupidness such as “my body, my choice”. Pure selfishness. Don’t even get me started on the anti-vaxers!
    I have, so far, lost 25 friends and aquaintances across the country, and I am sure many of them had the attitude of “it won’t happen to me”, yet it did.
    I wish people the world over would just take this all more seriously, and especially Japan, which is supposed to be so advanced and intelligent as a whole.
    I can assure you, we will not be travelling to Japan anytime soon. Until they have made some serious strides in vaccinating the whole populace, we will not risk it. Same goes for any other countries that aren’t taking this seriously, including many parts of the usa. There are too many imbeciles here as well, and we just won’t take chances, even when we are both fully vaccinated.

    Try to stay safe and distanced from the fools.

    • So sorry to hear you have lost 25 people, Gabrielle – this is horrific to read. I don’t know what to say except my condolences.

      I think if I had been in any country where people didn’t wear masks or where they were meaninglessly politicized ( recently i tried to blow out some incense sticks I had lit without realizing I had a mask on, and I couldn’t believe that it was literally impossible to do so even blowing as hard as I could ; this really impressed on me how much is being contained by a mask in comparison to all the spray going everywhere without one ). If I had been presented with people deliberately flouting the mask recommendations I know my stress would have been much worse than it has been. In Japan, almost everyone without exception wears a mask : everywhere ( but then again you saw my coffee shop story recently …, )

      Still, the masks have definitely made a big difference. It’s the window thing, the passivity…

      If a large group of people are on a train, and the air is thick with human breath – extremely dangerous considering that we are in the greater Tokyo area, usually, unless the window is already open, no one will open it – for fear of standing out / looking selfish / disturbing the peace etc. Heads down on mobile phone – gaman, the key word in Japanese culture ; stamina, patience, resilience. This has many positive aspects of course in a variety of situations, but unfortunately not in this one. Gaman in my school environment, for instance, can go fuck itself.

      JUST GIVE ME AIR

      • Thank you for the condolences. Like I said, most took precautions, while others thought themselves invincible. Along with way too many acquaintances not wanting to be vaccinated, it is disturbing.
        Gaman sounds foolish in these times. Open the damned window!
        You would most definitely be losing your mind here in the states right now. I am always shocked by how few people are wearing their masks. Then again, where I live (New Hampshire), the state’s moto is “Live free, or die”, so I guess idiots are trying to push their luck.
        Simply infuriating.

  7. Robin

    “Like a tuberosed Vol De Nuit, this shadowy, fungal amber has notes of narcissus, sage, cumin, birch leaves, clove, tobacco, patchouli and vetiver over a powdery vanilla from which protrudes, undaunted, a continuous, fresh living tuberose. While at first I was slightly put off by the jarringly dark, earth-bound elements, these have gradually become addictive (“L’Odore e L’anima che disegna la nostra anima”) and an essential part of this unusual perfume’s appeal.”

    Looks like this fragrance was in the right place at the right time, dear N. What as story. You covered a whole lot of ground here. The floorboards/Mori story, the continuing idiocy of the whole COVID saga in Japan, that claustrophobic fury. I’d be the same. If Ric and I were in Vancouver, I’d be apoplectic, I have no doubt, and they’re being pretty reasonable, by the sounds of it. I wish I could have you and Duncan hole up here for the duration, until Japan gets vaccinated. We are free from all of that ridiculousness. I know Ric would go bonkers if we had to witness all that you have, be in the middle of it feeling that angst and frustration and sense of virus all around. Even being away from it all here in the middle of nowhere in Canada, Ric still has to go to the back forest and spend a couple of hours a day splitting cedar to stay calm.

    It’s all so cumulative. Maybe a few months of this BS, but more than a year? And things at a new crescendo? It wears us out.

    I know I am more reliant than ever on my fragrances. I have been huffing the living bejeezus out of my l’Heure Attendue. I’m not a massive amber fan, but this one is front-loaded with waxy aldehydes, ylang ylang and tangerine and is just the ticket for escapism. It’s from the Heritage Collection, the final re-release from the now entirely defunct Patou label. Underrated and overlooked, as I’m sure I’ve said before. I think Thomas Fontaine has done a particularly good job considering the limitations he faced.

    Glad you had that deep dark tuberose to give you some relief.

    • I think any Japanese people reading this could , to a certain extent, be rightfully indignant at reading a British person criticizing their government response / death toll record : Canada too: a fifth the population, twice the deaths. How ? The whole mask issue I would imagine, where you are, which is simply not an issue here. People comply, because of osicuso pressure rather than mandates, but also because there is a history of it and people know it makes sense.

      Basically ( so tiresome we still have to be having this conversation but we do !) if the country had enforce strict border controls at the beginning then dome a proper furloughed/subsidized lockdown, I think we could be like Taiwan or New Zealand. People would have come out of lockdown wary and vigilant – which they still kind of are up to a point – and then they could have nipped infections in the bud.

      The problem is that the measures are ludicrous half-assed. There is no social distancing; well just a little where it is possible in large spaces but basically hardly any at all. When I arrived at work yesterday I saw the fish tank of teachers behind plexi-glass ; sixteen people in a room the size of or smaller than an average living room and I felt I couldn’t breathe looking at it. Yes, there are some internal aircon / fan extractors ( which people put way too much credence in here) but NO FRESH AIR except the reception desk half open; doors closed; no fans for circulation. It was utterly intolerable for me so I spent the entire time in another classroom with windows open only briefly stepping in to do photocopying. The interesting thing is that it was a preparation day, not a teaching one, except for me as I was doing a substitute lesson for one I missed due to illness, so anyone could have done the same. In Japan, though, maintaining harmony / the status quo is always the priority ( who knows what people were thinking to themselves behind their masks ), but they would have been there, all together, in one room with no air – so warm with human respiration – for about 10 hours.

      What is more, to get to Atsugi you have to get crowded trains which are going to and from the centre of Tokyo – a virus hotspot – and as I have written elsewhere, although the bus and railway companies are trying to ensure open windows, they don’t always, and people are too passive to open windows by themselves. The bus last night was sealed. I opened the back windows wide in exasperation. Some carriages on the train were shut. I could not tolerate it. What I am saying is, I am the one seen as a maniac ( and I know this post makes me look like one ), but I genuinely believe that my reactions are 100% rational in a situation I find completely insane. A literal threat to my existence, and everyone else’s, on a daily basis. As you say, the accumulation of this has done me in. It is a very different kind of stress to the being stuck at home being unable to go anywhere but I would find that INFINITELY INFINITELY preferable with only a fraction of the stress.

    • As for the perfume, yes yes yes. This passes all the tests. Delirious first impressions, perfect final settling on skin, lovely leavings on scarves, plus D likes it i me. It has the texture of a Guerlain – no horrible notes – but the unusual freaky mentholated medicated fungal patchouli tuberose of a niche : a glorious combination : I love it.

      I mean the tale of the home invasion here probably sounds COMPLETELY over the top, but for me the timing was atrocious; atrocious. I was so upset by the virus being in my workplace and the moronic attitudes that accompanied it that I just desperately wanted to have a weekend to get over it. Instead it was four days of totally unnecessary stress ( we had to transfer everything into the bedroom or the balcony to clear the way for the floorboards ) but that were so unconscious I literally had footprints on my work shirts that they had trampled on : surely if you saw a shirt had fallen off its hanger you would pick it up again, not just stamp all over it. And then the cat going into the ceiling was the last straw. The perfume was a truly beautiful contrast to all this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s