Saturday, January 1, 2011

Aught Not, or, Out with the Auld, or, what I Ought to Know about the Aughts

The Introduction

It was mid-December, and a friend mused that the decade was coming to a close, and we (collectively, globally) had never firmly decided upon a name for it.

The Zeroes? Zeds? Aughts? C-21?

If you have been reading me for a while, you ought to stop right here.
You aught to.
'Cause here's where I'm going...

I propose we let bygones be bygones.  And forever refer retrospectively to the decade as the Aught Nots.

Apt, no?

The Set Up

There's no way I'll make it through a decade.  Besides, I only passed through the perfume door in...2007?  fell down the rabbit hole in 2008? I can't comment on the whole decade through that prism.  And since passing the world through the prism of perfume was one of the shaping forces when I started this blog, I'll not even use a magic machine or Tardis or rosecoloredbeergoggles.  I'll just stick with 2010, thank you very much.

(What's that I hear?  "No, thank YOU"?)

The Ought Not Part
aka, Irksome

In 2010, I watched a host of bloggers complain of a variety of maladies: malaise, overload, lack of inspiration, too many releases, not enough inspiration.

At first I was sympathetic, because I understood how that happens.  Then I was a little ticked, because I understood that that happens.  Then I laid low, because stuff happens.

Suffice to say that in the end, I find the complaint about too many blogging voices to be a host of rubbish.  For heaven's sake, first in doesn't mean best in--and complaining from a first-in's advantage (for whatever worth such an "advantage" has to you) is a bit of poor sportsmanship.  Second, there are ALWAYS a lot of voices out there.  That's why there are critics and academics and teachers and bulldog reporters who spend time gathering and sifting to come up with observations and through lines and maps to guide newcomers through the landscape.  The beauty of being on your own is that you can decide who/what you will/will not pay attention to.  THAT is why you do not earn the big dollars writing your blog.  Which would be my third peeve.  Really?  Having a hum of regular traffic of people stopping by to register they've paid attention to what your saying and engage you in a little dialogue is no longer satisfying?  I get that.  You are entitled to your feelings; they are even rational and understandable.  But why in the world complain to those very people?  Oy to the caramba.

Granted, I'm not a public complainer.  Except for the occasional decade wrap-up, I suppose.  But sheesh; take issue with facts, or ideas presented.  Do not jump onto the superhighway and then complain about the volume of traffic, or the fact that some of the cars are in better shape than others.  Just decide if you are going to try to be a traffic reporter, or traffic aware, or focused on getting to your destination.

The Ought To Part
aka, Winsome

As a traveller who tried to play in traffic, I found a lot of rewards for my efforts.  Sure, there were voices I had to say goodbye to; heck, I said "good-bye" to Ina at Aromascope the day I started playing.  The Left Coast Nose I didn't discover until she said goodbye, even though she had been somewhere in traffic the whole time.  Some came in guns blazing and dropped out of sight (Hortus Conclusus), but I'm happy they were here; meanwhile, quiet and steady and always a pleasure to drop in on were the Muse in Wooden Shoes and All I am A Redhead and Olfactarama. Then, there was one of my happiest of discoveries, who I happened upon in progress but watched as they steadily increased voice and presence until they were present on more than one front (Bonkers About Perfume, now also writing as Vanessa for Cafleurebon).  Why soft spots for all of these?  Because all (except for Ina, who had already left the building) did a fantastic job of keeping the conversation going in the comments, which is often where the best revelations occurred.

Which is why I Smell Therefore I Am goes here, because they're a double-barreled force of honest thought and response, and--as is my wont--are both within and without perfume.  I am fascinated by perfume, you may have noticed, but it does not consume me.  I feed at least as much off of context as I do by specifics.

On the other hand, some blogs are so good at specifics, you enjoy reading and learning.  Elena at Perfume Shrine, Denyse at Grain de Musc, Octavian at 1000 Fragrances--I have learned much about perfume and the industry by reading them.

But here's the thing...I read a LOT of blogs.  I am a reader; as a kid, I read the back of the shampoo bottle and the cereal box as well as the entire stack of books the librarian reluctantly let me take home ("remember to bring them back in three weeks," she'd say, and raise an eyebrow when I had them back the following weekend)--I read a lot in general.  Thing is, after two years of doing so, I hit overload this fall, and I pulled back.  At first I simply didn't try to comment wherever I landed (bloggers do like to know they're not the only tree in the forest), and then I realized I was craving the break.  So I took a break.

Life is like that.  It goes in cycles.  I believe that, in the end, people get that, right?  And you are either committed to working through it, to plugging away at what you do until the Muse dances upon your keyboard again, or you take a break and go feed yourself otherwise, and (maybe) come back.

Speaking of which, look who's back:  Victoria (Bois de Jasmin) and Marina (Perfume Smelling Things). As with all good things, I'll take them for as long as they are offered.

BTW, in a year where some of the best statements came from the least mentioned blogs--I recall a very funny "wtf?" kind of column from Bloody Frida, who then announced she was hightailing it out of Dodge until things settled down in the sandbox, which she did, straight up...then came back--in a year of quiet gems, I have to point out the one that knocked my socks off.  The other thousand, One Thousand Scents, who has been writing since 2006 (take THAT, "oh, woe, these 'new' voices" folk), led a personal retrospective through 1980's fragrances that concluded with one of the most powerful pieces I've read in bloggery this year, period.

Aughts Decade in IconsAnd now I feel terrible, because I've called people out, and only mentioned a third of my personal blogroll, and not mentioned all who I've visited regularly for a while now, like A Rose Beyond the Thames, Glass Petal Smoke, First Nerve, and Perfume Posse.  They mean such different things to me; a happy ongoing visitation, an guided immersion into the senses, a skeptical scientific look at the senses, and the blog that first invited me in to perfumedom.  So maybe I'll finally create that annotated blogroll in 2011.

Write me a comment.  Bug me to do it.

aka If You Are Still Reading, Once More into the Breach

I never pretended to try everything, perfume-wise.  Not even when there weren't too many launches in the year to do so...which, btw, has been the cry since I fell down the rabbit hole in 2007.  As far as I am concerned, why would you want to?  It's not my business; I don't get paid to be aware of the full range of the scent market.  I would much rather revel in a beautiful or difficult scent for a while, learn how it plays with me on different days and in different weather, and honestly, just enjoy it yet again once I have found it brings me pleasure.

You'll have noticed, if you've been here for more or less the duration, that certain perfumes get repeated mention.  Because they weave in and out of my life, and with the occasional exception (what the heck WAS that that Papyrus de Ciane did???), I know better than to talk about my first rounds with something. Because subsequent rounds often change.  On the other hand, maybe paying more attention to how things first enter my conscious is worth doing, so I can follow the trail.  I've thought that before. main point is that I am sorry if I have disappointed because I don't discuss new launches much.  I am also sorry that those who have initially presented themselves as presenters of the latest are starting to feel penned in by that self-description.  A little bit sorry.  But not much.  Because you can either shift gears, or not.  Life offers these options.  It's good that way.

I may try to sort this one more time.  Maybe even here.  But for now, know that I enjoyed my time with a ridiculously large amount of the blogs I explored, that I found reward and happiness in both depth and in banter, and that I just may figure out how to make this thing work as I enter the fourth calendar year of Notes From the Ledge.

Still here?  A big smile and a thanks for riding along from me.  I'll shake your hand and send you off for now with the other great thing that was said about this transition from one year to next, by another friend:

"This year goes to '11.'"

image the first publicity for the Greenaway film A Zed and Two Noughts, which in addition to having words in the title which play nicely with my aughts (and a zed for my naught), has a delightfully convoluted plot which those who have made it through my longer postings might appreciate

image the second, a graphic representation of the aughts by The Reformed Broker

image the third, the Shepherd Fairy rip-off, erm, homage style poster of Nigel Tufnel, ripped off, erm, gratefully lifted from The Dummocrats


Ines said...

:D I am happy you're back (and Bois de Jasmine and PST). I can understand taking a break (I've thought about it this year as well) but you explained it quite nicely in your long-ish post (you often make me wonder how do you do that? - write such a long post and not lose the thread of the idea because THAT happens to me all the time). :)
There are so many things I thought while reading this post and so many things I could go on writing (until I lose my thread of thought) but the most important is, I feel very lucky to participate in the discussion our virtual blogging world offers and I enjoy talking with everyone (old or new) so I keep on hoping we transfer some of that good will on to everyone around us.
Happy New Year!

Marina said...

Not Aughts! AOUDHS :)))
As for the rest, I am with you re: Oy to the caramba. Indeed.
I remember so thrilled to discover your blog in 2008, and during that time it actually got me through long commute to and from work. I'll let a page of month worth of posts load before going underground :)
And in the last month, Notes from Josephine and Bonkers About Perfume have been getting me through hours of sitting-rocking-feeding :)
I have 50 or so perfume blogs saved in favorites that I (try to) visit daily, including obviously this one. I was glad to see new posts in December :)

Anonymous said...

The decade we're leaving has been called the "Noughties" here in the UK. How apt. Now for the "terrible 'Teens", as we learn to live within our means.

I love the idea of turning it up to Eleven this year, which will help me to remember the date accurately.

You and all the other lovely perfume bloggers keep me feeling sane(ish!), which means a lot to a befuddled presently cold-ridden soul with no other perfume-mad bods around her.

Keep it up, please!

cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

Lucy said...

Your posts and enthusiasms have been so thoughtful, and thought provoking, it's what doing all this blog posting and reading is all about, to my mind.

I see the perfume sites as of at least of two kinds, or flavors, those that see themselves as reviewers and those that are writing about enjoying perfume, and the twists and turns of olfactory beauty going in all directions. There are different reasons to read either one or both, and different exquisite rewards.

It's been a way to connect with some very intriguing sensibilities. Some sites and posts restore my faith in my fellow humans after a tough day.

The more the merrier I say. It's still a democratic medium, thank heavens. The cat can look at the king, and comment. Having interest and discussion and enthusiasm is all to the good and maybe one of the reasons there has been such a blooming of creativity in perfume lately.

Maybe all this attention and looping creativity will turn the tide against the current cultural shunning of perfume and all to do with the sense of smell. I think it very well may.

ScentScelf said...

Ines, I join you in wishing goodwill and enthusiasm as the contagion for 2011.

As for refinding my thread after spinning out into various directions...a trail of breadcrumbs, perhaps? ;) I'm glad you've learned to trust that I will come back around. Eventually. Usually. :)

ScentScelf said...

LOL, Marina! 'Twas the aoudhs, indeed. As if we collectively needed a Band-Aid. ;)

Sitting-rocking-feeding are days I remember well...rather, *nights* I remember well, as the process seemed to be thrown into the greatest relief in the wee small hours of the morning. You must be more capable than I, however...the extra juggling required to manipulate reading device as well as baby would probably have been a bit ahead of my limited abilities.

There's something I like about the idea of joining you before heading underground... :)

ScentScelf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ScentScelf said...

Anna, I am glad to see you back! Oh, dear, there isn't another perfume soul in Edinburgh? Your city is going to feature prominently in something I'm working up about sensory own fault, not your fine city's...but if it helps, I was at the top of Arthur's Seat once upon a time, looking down and taking a needed respite from my re-introduction to a populace. (I'd just spent some time on the Shetlands...quite a different level of input there.)

I wasn't a perfume person then, but I always feel like I left a little bit of myself there, so either through here or the top of the mountain, I am with you in spirit.

I wish I knew how to find the scampish lad I encountered just before Beating Retreat commenced--very traditional waist down, kilt and socks w/garters and all, but waist up, gradually more punk, until you got to his devil-horn styled hair. I have a feeling HE would have appreciated perfume. At least the idea of being mad about it.

Here's to turning up the dial!

ScentScelf said...

Lucy, thank you. I am of course finding your words on bloggery to be very sage, but the fact that I easily agree with you may mitigate the impact of my forceful nodding along.

The cultural shunning of perfume is an interesting phenomenon. Also interesting is the dialogue that has started about exploring it as an art. Perhaps there will be an additional something to how those two workings-out proceed...might there be an overlap? Will it be as simple as "jazz was once shunned, now embraced as a cultural institution"? Or will there be a complex sorting out of personal boundaries (I do believe some people are truly physically disturbed by certain odors/aromas/concentrations, and how do we allow for conflicting personal "freedoms"?) and creative expression (both in expressing self and in conjuring olfactory art, by which I mean to include IFRA issues as well as other aspects)?

Once again, here's to turning the volume to "11." :)

Josephine said...

Your blog continues to intrigue and inspire me, even though I am, at times, too scattered to apply the focus required to get through your deep and thoughtfully written posts. Please keep writing them and I will catch up.

Responding to the invitation to bug you to annotate your blog list, consider it done. And I would be pleased to be listed among the others you have chosen.

Thank you for visiting Notes From Josephine on occasion and leaving meaningful comments. Your presence is much appreciated. Happy New Year!

ScentScelf said...

Aw, Josephine, I hope I don't scramble the eggs too hard. I am glad to know you'll make your way through and catch up.

Your prod, duly noted.

Notes to Notes, of course you're on the list. You've created a fine expression of one of the most personal universal approaches, accessing the love of perfume through the arc of your grief. (Which is not a fair full summary, as the good humor and ribaldry are not absent from the whole. ;) )

Did you see you are rocker-sitter-feeder helper? :)

Vanessa said...

I have greatly enjoyed your meandering whimsy and philosophical musings over the course of the last year - I see you as one of the leading luminaries in the second type of blog identified above by Lucy:

"..see the perfume sites as of at least of two kinds, or flavors, those that see themselves as reviewers and those that are writing about enjoying perfume, and the twists and turns of olfactory beauty going in all directions."

I don't think you scramble the eggs too hard - you scramble them elliptically on occasions, but who am I to talk, having just confused Bloody Frida about bangers and boltholes?

Feel honoured to be included in your roll call, also by Marina in her "feed reads" - or that is what I infer - never having rocked-sat-fed myself, or not all at once, or involving a baby, anyway. PST and NST are the two "-ST"s on which I cut my newbie teeth, as it were, nearly three years ago now...

And Anna, the next time I am up visiting Sibling Bonkers in Grange, I will be sure to give you a shout, if it would make you feel less of a fumie freak.