PATCHOULI INCENSE

Every few months or so I buy a box of Seiun incense. A simple, every day ‘family shrine’ incense blend of benzoin, camphor and patchouli, far less expensive than the more upscale artistanal temple incense featuring sandalwood or agar, I then have a ritual, at night, of dripping patchouli essential oil, drop by drop, onto the sticks, covering as much as possible (my favourites are the ones that are completely black: one day I will buy many bottles at once and make a threnody of the substance, as patchoulish as a witch).

When lit, the effect as the smoke hangs in the air, is pure patchouli. I know from trial and experimentation that this process doesn’t work with vetiver, cedarwood, vanilla, or any number of other essential oils I have tried – the scent becomes altered and unpleasant. With patchouli, though, it is almost as if the material were designed for this very use, the effect mind altering; pungently dark and earthy, twisty and sinuous, an arid, soil-like purification of the air that is more than a match for the current gloom of the moist, malingering rainy season where all is damp; green, almost constantly raining; humid and overgrown (see our ‘hydrangea bower’ in the top picture where we sit on the street and drink coffee watching people passing by on sunny days). On occasion, over the years, in small packages I have sent some of this double bind of patchouli of mine through to people – to Tora, to Pissara in Paris, D’s mum, Helen (Georgia, I think you definitely need some) – patchouli lovers lover it: it lingers in a room, dry and mitigating like a beautiful cold accusation.

Currently, we are also in a suspended state. The rain dampens everything, and yet I find myself partially in the mood for it. Waiting for this period to be over, while also wanting to live it. The Olympics are soon to be held, even as the Delta variant of the coronavirus is starting to spread; some athletes already taking it with them to the training villages that they are staying in and infecting local inhabitants. I feel like staying in as much as possible. We have been immersed in an eerie film we are making, in which I drown like Ophelia in the painting by Millais: weekends are spent in filming and editing; not really straying from the house; I lost my sense of smell and taste temporarily, but this was from being submerged in the bath surrounded by flowers and foliage ripped from the front garden rather than from a Covid diagnosis. Mad as this probably sounds, we need some artistic catharsis from all the accumulated stress and are absolutely in our element. The results are exciting. Thursday, though, with biting reality, I got a message from D at school: “Bad news. Our vaccinations have been cancelled due to a lack of supply”: an alarming turn of events that is now, in fact, transpiring across much of Japan as local authorities are forced to say no even to people in the 60-65 age bracket due to logistical mismanagement and a failure to secure enough doses by the hapless central government, who are about to let 90,000 people from abroad into the country with very few restrictions on their movement (the word that always gets used in this situation, in our household anyway, is pathetic. My god it’s pathetic‘.) P A T H E T I C, and also potentially lethal.

At any rate, the fact that the teachers in his school were asked instead to ‘try and get a vaccine somehow over the August summer break’ set my pulse racing on Friday. Fend for yourself, basically. It was all set in my mind that even though it was a bit close to the edge, he was set to get his first Moderna jab on July 24th, the day after the Opening Ceremony, and then we would proceed from there, seven months after our families had their injections back in the UK: to thus have the rug pulled from under your feet in this way is not very pleasant. It is not even that either of us is cowardly, afraid of getting the flu, or flu-like symptoms. Staying in bed for a few days with hot aches can almost be pleasurable in a sick kind of way; you just sleep it off and then feel rejuvenated afterwards. It is the extremities, your hands and feet, shrivelling and turning black as you die from lack of oxygen, the organ failure; the ventilators – plastic contraptions forced into your lungs which, even if you manage to survive, cause so much damage to the surrounding tissue that you have to have rehabilitation just for that. The brain fog. The stomach cramps. The debilitation. A friend sent me an email yesterday saying that a friend of hers has already had Covid once and now – he didn’t get vaccinated – has got horrible swollen glands like golf balls in his neck from having tested positive for Delta. NO THANKYOU. I will do anything to avoid being in this situation.

In kinetic, rational, fully proactive mode, at work the next day on Friday, I set about trying to get D onto my work vaccination program – still in progress – as next of kin. No problem. No issue – I was impressed with the modernity of the situation; D was considered a spouse, and one of my Japanese colleagues did his absolute best to see if there was a place on the waiting list for cancellations – every day there are three or four (some teachers are put off by the reports of some of the aches in your arm that you get from the injection (hello? compare that to liver failure or your muscle tissue atrophying in your legs or not being able to breathe); others are abiding by the rule that if you are feeling under par, you shouldn’t have the vaccination on that day. All the more for us then.

Jubilation. Yes! It turned out that there was a spot the very next day, on Saturday. So off we went to the centre of Yokohama, to the place where they were doing the jabs – there wasn’t even a line; we were in and out; vaccinated, it had happened, and then we wandered around the city in a happy weekend daze until we came across a building where a decade or so ago we had held a couple of dance parties, a place that had now turned into a Nepalese restaurant, where we sat on the rooftop garden, just the two of us, breathing many sighs of relief over a slow and delicious lunch. We will both have had the second vaccination – we have been guaranteed a set of two – by the end of July. Two weeks after that, we will potentially be able to feel protected enough to even go on a short trip; to some seaside town, maybe; though we are not going to be taking any chances. Though nothing like the situation in Brazil and Peru and elsewhere, with the ‘Olympics’ threatening to cause superspreader events, this is still definitely the time to be quite vigilant (“probably, a maximum of 5,000 people will allowed into some of the venues!” the organizers tell us! (though last week it was “10,000”! ) Also; no one is legally required to have had the vaccine…..What? Duncan gets furious whenever he talks about this: It is all a form of total insanity that plenty of my friends here, enraged that profits for broadcasting rights and sponsorship deals are taking priority over the lives of the people in the country, are ranting and raving about like you wouldn’t imagine; people I know scrambling desperately to find somewhere they can get the injections before the virus is delivered to every corner of suburbia on the trains that go from the heart of Tokyo like arteries and veins into the surrounding cities, towns, and districts; one friend of mine fortunately lucky enough to have had a contact who got him in at the Swedish embassy even though he is Canadian. All quite shambolic and dangerous.

Anyway. I have tried. I like to think I am not an entirely selfish person. I have attempted to open windows on buses and trains wherever I can: I make sure my students are always wearing masks and as spaced out as is feasible, and I do worry about the populations at large, here, and back home in England and everywhere else as well. But there is only so much I can do. Right now, I am looking after my own household. I am concerned, but am just going to hold tight. Alone. I just want to sit here in silence, with the rain outside of my window; the pall of water and mist hanging over everything, and sit, with my slowly billowing patchouli incense.

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LUXE, CALME ET VOLUPTÉ by FRANCESCA BIANCHI (2021)

I have lost my sample of this perfume. On the day it arrived, I was anything but in a state of luxe, calme and volupté. So I thought I would save it instead for the weekend, putting it aside in some now forgotten place. Prior to this scurrying away, however (my curiosity getting the better of me, as it always does), I had sprayed semi-voluptuous amounts of the scent vial onto some of the crepe tissue paper that accompanied the package; and secreted those away in a box.

On the dark rainy day in question, getting ready for work, in stark, rational mode of mind, slow, insinuous trails of Francesca Bianchi’s newest scent kept finding their way to me through the room like sweating, erotic tendrils.: I was aroused, distracted. This perfumer really thinks long and hard about her base accords – unusual in these olfactory times of shallow superficiality – which are unusually rich and long-lasting on skin; addictive.

The new Baudelairean episode – a poem taken from the nineteenth century poet’s langoruous anthology Les Fleurs Du Mal, is presumably provoked by a much longed for (and needed) sinking into the self; the pleasures of the senses and interiority, the privacy of sex, after all the haemorrhaging neuroticism and angst of this last year in which we bled out like water into the cold realities of the greater world. A refuge in sensuality and the re-discovery of the body, Luxe is an opoponax-sandalwood kissed through with benzoin and iris, sungolden ylang; vetiver, and tropical fruit; the frank carnality of the blend, in its later stages, taking me back to some of the the 80’s and 90’s amber/resinous white flower divas such as Jean Patou Sublime, or the original Moschino Moschino : : buttery temptresses arranged on white furs.

I was ‘troubled’ the very second I first smelled this blend – even though I was ironing my shirt at the time and thinking about grammar. Something about it goes straight – simplistically – to the pleasure centres – even if the prolonged and dusty bitter hiss of the green tangerine/ galbanum and hyacinth opening accord, which I was less keen on – vines of cold fire reminiscent of the harsh, petrolic ginger notes in some mid-period Goutals such as Un Matin D’Orage, will prove jarring for some. Bianchi seems to really be urging you to settle in with this one; breathe in the full vista; the dawn vapours of a tropical island, steam rising up from the poisonous undergrowth – – she wants us to take our time.

As I said, I haven’t yet tried this on skin – because I can’t find the perfume. But I have my instincts about these things, and I have no doubt that on many people, especially certain women, this rich and dense luscious scent will – due to, or in spite of, the glaring tropes of its sun-tanned, dangling gold/white-open bloused femme fatalisms – prove sexually irresistible.

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LES PARFUMS DE ROSINES : : MON AMIE LA ROSE (2019) + BOIS FUSCHIA (2019) + BLEU ABYSSE (2019) + ROSE GRIOTTE (2021)

Having hours to kill, for a moment I was undecided whether to return back home and then go out again later, or to spend the day in Yokohama. The decision was easy to make. There was no way I was going to be shut in on a day like this. A day off. Nothing to do. Glorious sunshine. A return to freedom. The shot finally in my arm.

So I just ambled slowly from spot to spot, reading Polly Barton’s Fifty Sounds, which arrived at the perfect time – an examination of all things Japanese, linguistic, social, psychological, very personal, and gladly surrendered to another person’s piercing mind for the day, ravished by the words and the ideas, sometimes putting it back down on the grass to just look up and watch the scene in Yamashita park, where I lay for so long in a stasis of one I got sunburn. People running; tai-chi against the backdrop of the ocean liners; rose gardens in full bloom; dogs leaping, the air alive with being.

Making my way through the park, people relaxed on the grass looking out at the water, lovers holding hands, old ladies chatting on wooden benches, (everything looks different when you have had the vaccine), I decided to mosey on down past Marine Tower and all the plush wedding hotels and have a look in Barney’s New York: a spacious, white, neo-art deco building I always enjoy a quick look in because of its prime location and marbled airiness; surrounded by space: on the top floor, you can have a coffee and cake in the cafe overlooking the sea (remember, Emma); hardly ever anyone in there; everything cool and white; ‘choice products’, rather than the onslaught of artificial lights, swirling crowds, and the intense novel mania for goods that is the commerce catacomb of Isetan Shinjuku.

No – in Barney’s, with its predictable quiet backdrop of light jazz standards, usually Sarah Vaughan, Chet Baker or Ella Fitzgerald, I could just move slowly, at my leisure, to the perfume counters, and (I genuinely felt different, the nano-technology running its course through my body; who knew what was going to happen; but I didn’t particularly care; I was just glad to be able to take my mask off and cherry-select just a few scents I didn’t know in a mindless state of day-lit, semi-somnabulant bliss).

Staring at the spartanly showcased shelves, it shocked me how many Roses De Rosines I was unfamiliar with (where have I been?)

I suppose I have neglected to smell the Ballerina series: though they have been out for a few years now, much as the frou frou of it all delights me to some extent (and what a perfect gift for a young daughter or niece) I’m not sure I have ever properly smelled this collection: perhaps I would have just felt like too much of a nonce picking over all the tulle and the netting to actually get to the nozzle, I don’t know. A man has his limits.

The Roses Absolument etc too – I love the boxes, that patterned embossed geometry: and let’s say I had a few thousand dollars to splash out on a frivolous whimsy, just for the fresh hell of it, I would probably have bought the entire series yesterday. There is something about Rosine: the perfumes themselves often very lovely, if not actually scintillating, but I feel they are somehow outside of the main niche frame; not quite commercial, not quite classical, something unsullied and porcelain that makes me just live in a huge glass house with a beautiful bathroom that has cabinets and cabinets to stock all of these bottles and boxes, so much so that you would never actually know how many you had or what was actually in there; lost in the mirrored madness of your luxuriantly oblivious purchases. To enter, and, on a flight of fancy, pick one particular rose, the one that has laid itself open for you, all the while enveloped in the fluffiest, dense white bathrobe.

The new, ultra-cute Rose Griotte struck me as rather delightful, as an example. I love cherry, and this is of course a cherry rose, but not done in the usual black forest gateau manner, all syrupy kirsch black cherries and oud. Non, non, cherie, this is a light and playful thing, with an ‘acidulous cherry taste’ that reminds me of the acerola juice drinks you get here in Japan, quenching with vitamin C: other fruit notes, Japanese nashi pear, cherry blossom, tangerine, heliotrope, jasmine sambac and osmanthus all contributing to make this a very pretty little perfume indeed. I think I want it.

Mon Amie La Rose is another very typically Rosine-ish light summer rose, with notes of bamboo and white tea, pear, lotus – you know the score – summery, refreshing and relaxing. Simple. Easy. Lightly aquatic. Perfect for the kind of young women who frequent Barney’s – an instant hit. I wouldn’t mind this one either, in the aforementioned imaginary Ali Baba’s cave of Pristine Endless Toiletry. Why not? After a nice bath, a spritz of a crisp, diaphanous rose can do the trick.

We like.

And as I was making all the right noises about the cherry, because it just felt so cheerful and perfect at that moment – the lone assistant – who I would give top points for being just helpful, friendly and knowledgeable enough; unpatronizing, polite and space-giving : cleverly directed me to the ‘sale section’, where a few Rosines from the evidently unpopular Les Extravagants were going for half price (still $150 though); the not dissimilar, similarly fruity Bois Fuchsia (and look at the boxxxxx……………..this has Neil Chapman written all over it: I love these 1920’s geometric designs………..) making me feel happy as a simpleton, in a blissfully childhood memory kind of way. Safe and cozy. Welcoming. A rather delicious combo of cassis, raspberry and litchi/lichee, iris, rose, and a sandalwood/patchouli finish I would have to test on skin before committing to (because you know how I am with woods), this perfume did something to me, and has lodged itself in my mind as a possible catch. Sometimes I like perfumes that are outside my pre-delineated territories.

Sampling the other three perfumes in the discounted Les Extravagants quartet, I found I was categorically not in the right mood for Vanille Paradoxe, a spicy ambroxan vanilla that I cowed away from; it is just not the kind of thing I am in the mood for right now. Too suffocating. Eloge Du Vert, a quite interesting scent centred around a very penetrating green peppercorn note, bolstered with other peppers and dry woods, rose and ginger, is a good option for those who really want to clear the air around them and get some zing, but I found it somewhat lacking in complexity.

Bleu Abysse, though, is what drew me in the most. I think mainly because of the sheer poetry of the name – those two French words together, which I find extremely beautiful, and which encapsulates precisely what many of us are slowly crawling out of now. This summer. An abyss. A blue abyss. Ulysses. The ocean depths – a seaweed rose. With mineral notes: algae, vetiver, elemi, incense, rose and bright citruses, this perfume strikes me as the furthest Rosine has ever strayed from its lovely, but somewhat narrowly rose-strewn path; darker, and more peculiar, the marine aspect of its athletic masculinity the one that somehow strayed onto my mask when I was reading, imbuing the day from that point on. Inspired by the scent of a particular species of French rose – the rosa moscata – a rambling rose on rocky shores, Bleu Abysse is a curious, rejuvenating dissident of the Rosine family that has struck a chord.

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ILIO by DIPTYQUE (2021)


Diptyque scents have lost some of their bite recently . And the latest, Ilio, a citro-fruity jasmine fig or prickly pear number with Iris and bergamot, facets, is sweet and simple, but to me a bit sickly and nauseating. I had to wash it off.

Never mind.

I have just come from the vaccination center, after my first dose, via Diptyque, to the jungle garden on the roof of a Yokohama department store, where I am now celebrating the moment in the sun.



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MY NEW FAVOURITE PERFUME : : : : CORIANDRE VINTAGE EDT by JEAN COUTURIER (1973)

It is hot and humid. Lilies, hydrangeas, magnolia trees in full bloom : the torpid, leaf-tinged breeze bringing with it the scent of clouds; moisture, undergrowth, chlorophyll.

What could be more perfect in these close, sweaty evenings than to come home, shower, and find a stash of miniature vintage perfumes bought for a penny on the kitchen table? Shiseido Masumi, Soir De Paris Bourjois (never experienced except in parfum before: I love the aspirin / medicinal Savlon smell of it), a mini Nº19 edt….. but best of all, the green, delicate, chypric enigma that is Coriandre By Jean Paul Couturier.

Coriandre, in extrait, never quite clicked with me: the rose too dense and syrup-deep red; too concentrated, oily; insufficient freshness. The small eau de toilette D brought home for me the other night, however, is clearly the correct strength of this cooling, wily antidote: a perturbing, aphidic anointment of herbaceous angelica and coriander, drawn like a grass-skeined floral veil over a classic – (but light , this really goes with the June rains) – delicately chypric base of patchouli, oakmoss, vetiver, civet, and musk. In edt, Coriandre is a dignifying, and distancing, scent that refreshes the senses: reaching out, and definitely ‘chic’; while also still retaining some privacy. I need a full bottle.

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KINTSUGI by MASQUE MILANO (2019)

Kintsugi is a centuries old Japanese artisanal tradition of fixing broken cups, plates, and other pottery and ceramics by putting the pieces back together with lacquered powdered gold. In not attempting to hide the process but by emphasizing the imperfections themselves, this ancient craft is fascinating not only aesthetically, but philosophically. You can be damaged, but also more experienced, weathered – beautiful – as a result.

Flawed perfume Kintsugi, by Italian niche house Masque Milano, a rich vanilla Siam Benzoin with patchouli, amber, and a magnetic heart of violet leaf and suede, is a melange of warm, aromatic melancholy – a little too heavy and tangy perhaps- a full dose or big bottle might prove a little wearing – but I enjoy the scent’s general atmosphere, and will use it. Binding, and surrounding, If Zoologist’s Nightingale is Plum, this is coffee: soothing and invigorating. (Unfortunately, ‘magnolia’ is the ‘gilded glint’ in the broken pottery here – one of my very least favourite notes in perfumery : I am not overly fond even of the scent of the unreplicable flowers to begin with: in Kintsugi, the floral note is a creamy citric ‘brightness’ that is mercifully shortlived, until the main, habit-formingly accord comes into fruition.)

Strangely, and completely coincidentally (I was going to write something about this perfume yesterday but got swept up in the significance of the day), a piece in this morning’s international edition of The New York Times also discusses kintsugi, its metaphor very relevant to the current time we are going through. Writer Emily Esfahani Smith has some very interesting points to make about how we can reshape ourselves following this last year, whether by falling into negativity and ‘contamination’ – a path I have been in danger of following myself – or a more positive one of redemption. She also discusses psychology studies on the value of writing, on self-expression, even of our darkest experiences, as a tool to ‘opening up’ ourselves – and moving forward.

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the heart’s filthy lesson


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THE SWEET HEFT OF SUMMER…….COCO BLANC by HOUSE OF MATRIARCH (2013) + PARISIAN MUSC by MATIERE PREMIERE (2019) + LOST ALICE by MASQUE MILANO (2021)

Now that we are able, or will soon be able, to start going out again and enjoying summer evenings in public, as places gradually,slowly open up a little, country by country around the world, cautiously pretending we are hunky dory and untraumatized, that first gin and tonic dissolving some of the residual fear, it is surely the time to start letting rip with our perfume collections. It was all very well spraying away at home as a kind of anaesthesia, a way of blocking the world outside and sealing ourselves within our own safely scented cocoons, but we know in our hearts also that perfume is also a form of communication. A way to connect to strangers without words.

I am already half planning parties in my mind for later in the year; looking forward to seeing friends and talking to them unreservedly without always looking at their mouth shape moving from under their masks: the whole ritual of bathing, dressing, scenting, heading out. Forgetting myself for a while and entering another person’s space. Smelling nice. And not only in subdued and elegant perfumes – those that let you try to keep a level head during times of insanity – I feel like some humour and flamboyance, something more gorgeous, to bring out the more gregarious members of the set.

Today’s semi-randomly selected trio of scents I have woken up feeling like talking about are not at all a bad way to celebrate the newly sociable world we will soon be re-entering.. Matiere Premiere’s Parisian Musc is a rather simplistic, but quite immediate, blast of what smells like figgy coconut but what is actually a syntheticconglomeration of ambrettolide, ambroxan, musk mallow, or ambrette, all wrapped around a fuzzy centre of Virginia Cedar. It puts me in a good mood; the D likes a daytime musk, and this worked well yesterday – just one dab to the wrist creating almost nuclear levels of sillage throughout the house as he ran up and downstairs and all around doing filming for his latest project: within an hour or so it had gone completely, and it wasn’t the most elaborate concoction, but I can still imagine him using this one as a social lubricant : just a dot to the skin before a meet-up with friends, and the transparent barriers that divide (particularly given that people have been so isolated and for so long, a little wary and trapped within their own membranes ) will immediately be mollified and softened. This is a friendly perfume.

Another genial fragrance is the new Lost Alice by Masque Milano, which also to me smells like a musky coconut (it must be this ambrette which has been very du jour for quite a while now; binding the biscuit in a way that threatens to take over any subtle flavours that allegedly lurk therein), in this case English Tea, Steamed Milk, White Roses, and other allusions to Lewis Carroll’s young heroine as she navigates the Hatter and all the other nutters at her hallucinatory party in the woods. While some reviews of this pleasant gourmand see visions of entire raspberry scones and teahouses, I myself smell something more akin to a Body Shop oil or a toned down version of Lush’s sandalwood-tastic Vanillary. Textured, but a little too fixed. Still, it is quite nice, cute, if a little monolithic, which wouldn’t nevertheless stop me from smelling it on someone walking by me at a restaurant and smiling quite contentedly. I know she might bring something new to the table: while my skin tends to bring things back to the basics, others bring out more faceted intricacies.

What I love about House Of Matriarch’s Coco Blanc, summer in a bottle, is the fact that it doesn’t pretend to be a conceptual compendium, relying on any gimmicks or superfluous ingredients or conceits to get straight to the point – which is a lovely natural sandalwood vanilla with a breezy cream of coconut and white chocolate running through it that is ethereal rather than sickly: the second you smell it, you either have the immediate desire to wear it, drink it, or, resisting its massoia milkiness – for me, this lactonic quality works perfectly, like solar oil on suntanned skin; others may find it a little too……….delicious; at least enjoy it immensely on another human walking by: there is something gorgeously, sarong-drifty exuberant about this scent: warm: a real mood booster. A perfume truly made for skin. For living, not for thinking. The time for mingling again, on beaches, at bars, on the streets, will soon be upon us: and if people smell like this, like any of these perfumes I am mentioning today, actually, I will be nothing but all for it.

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POLLY BARTON

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2021/06/20/books/polly-barton-fifty-sounds/

I have met Polly Barton three times. Best friend of frequent collaborator Michael Judd/ Belgium Solanas, a film maker and photographer who wrote the infamous peacock piece on here as well as making my Martin video, I first met her at an all night party : Tokyo Witch Garden in Tokyo, where we tried to talk over the heavy metal band that was playing and exchanged mutually intriguing accounts about living here in Japan. An acclaimed Japanese-English translator with an almost fearfully intelligent gaze, she is the kind of person who tells it like it is – but beautifully. At that particular moment, I think she was about to leave Japan, a country she loves and is thoroughly addicted to, but also finds problematic (sound familiar?): sick to the teeth of being ‘othered’. Now (not entirely comfortably, it would seem ) based back in the UK, she has just published her first book, 50 Sounds, to rave reviews, already on its second printing and which also featured in this weekend’s Japan Times. We have just ordered it. I know it will be an intensely interesting read, and I am looking forward to see how our experiences of living here interlock, but also differ.

The second time I met Polly was at a screening of Michael and Polly’s hilariously surrealistic and comedic film ‘Crispy Kiss’ in Osaka, where they were running around giving out film-themed cocktails that were not easy on the stomach; even if the movie itself was very easy on the brain and eye. Later, there was a goodbye party and mass karaoke with people I didn’t know which was daunting for me; I don’t think I saw her again for a couple of years until she was back in Japan, dancing at a club night called Egomaniac where we were all going wild to Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill as though part of a religious cult. A very highly skilled, precise but instinctively penetrating writer, I am fascinated by her story of moving to the Sado island, alone, ‘fresh out of Cambridge’; of having an affair with an older married man there; becoming gradually more fluent and inextricable, the similarities of our ‘in-betweenness’, both ‘Japanized British’, the most glaring and important difference being that 50 Sounds is the story of her immersion in the Japanese language itself (I, in great contrast, shamefully, can’t even write my own name in the most simple of syllabaries, katakana) ; and how this experience shaped and changed not only her life but even reorganized her own consciousness.

To enter Japanese is to enter a mindset – perhaps why D and I have resisted – a gendered, hierarchical, highly complex series of social elaborations and written and unwritten rules that makes speaking English feel comparatively like eating a bag of chips. We have never managed it. I am certainly ‘conversant’, enough to oil the hinges, to communicate, but have never properly endeavoured; neverly truly sunk my teeth into it. In truth, I was never especially studious. At school I was academic, but lazy. My record, movie and perfume collections have always been more important. I still accrue vocabulary, at a glacial pace, but essentially gave up long ago. (Not entirely true……I have to speak it every day; we have had language lessons intermittently over the years, but in our hearts knew that it was never really going to happen. I just find it impossible to produce fluently from my lips. It doesn’t emerge. There is no well I can draw from. The language just does not ‘fit’ my brain; it won’t enter). I find it beautiful; it is beautiful: to look at as well, so I can’t deny my deep jealousy of Polly, a brilliant individual, in having not only mastered Japanese, to have gone down the full ‘rabbit hole’ the way she has in entering the psyche and the internal linguistic mechanisms ; how they express themselves at the soul level ; but also to be able to render Japanese literary works in effortlessly lucid prose in English – a true bridge between the two — even if she has been ( fortunately or unfortunately ), irrevocably altered in the process.

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D E L I R I O U S (a celebration, and exploration, of all things jasmine, featuring: JASMIN DE NUIT by THE DIFFERENT COMPANY + ACASIOSA by CARON + JASMINE ATTAR by AMOUAGE + VENT DE JASMIN by IL PROFUMO + VELVET DESIRE by DOLCE & GABBANA + OPHELIA by HEELEY + A LA NUIT by SERGE LUTENS + IKAT JASMINE by ERIN LAUDER + JARDIN BLANC by MAITRE PARFUMEUR ET GANTIER + FLEURS D’OMBRE JASMIN LILAS by JEAN CHARLES BROSSEAU + VOILE DE JASMIN by BULGARI + IMPERIAL TEA by KILIAN + FIRST by VAN CLEEF & ARPELS + ECLAT DE JASMIN by ARMANI PRIVE + WHITE JASMINE & MINT by JO MALONE + JASMINE FULL by MONTALE + NIGHT BLOOMING JASMINE by FLORIS + GIANFRANCO FERRE + SARRASINS by SERGE LUTENS + LA REINE MARGOT by LES PARFUMS HISTORIQUES + LUST by GORILLA PERFUMES + LOVE AND TEARS by BY KILIAN + GELSOMINO by SANTA MARIA NOVELLA +PALAIS JAMAIS by ETRO + JASMIN ET CIGARETTE by ETAT LIBRE D’ORANGE + CAROLINA HERRERA + LE JASMIN by ANNICK GOUTAL + ORIO by MONA DI ORIO + SAMSARA by GUERLAIN + JASMIN ROUGE by TOM FORD + JAZMIN by LE JARDIN DE JIMMY BOYD + OLENE by DIPTYQUE + SONGES by ANNICK GOUTAL + EVA EVANTHIA’S INDIAN JASMINE )

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