Saturday, October 1, 2011

Brave New Scents: A Natural Perfumers Guild Project

"O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is!

O brave new world!
That has such people in it!"
~ Miranda in Shakespeare's The Tempest, Act V, Scene I 
"I want God, I want poetry,
I want danger, I want freedom,
I want goodness, I want sin."
~ Adlus Huxley's Brave New World
A few months ago I was approached by the Natural Perfumers Guild and asked if I wanted to participate in a perfume project focused on the theme of "Brave New Scents," a play on themes from Aldus Huxley's frequently banned novel, Brave New World. FN1.

Intrigued, I did what I always do when someone asks if I want to try something new and it doesn't involve (a) heights (b) drowning (c) car accidents. FN2.

I said yes.

When I got the amazing package in the mail, I read through the materials with interest. The Vision of the project, as stated in the press release, is as follows:
The new avalanche of glorious aromatics, including the ones we create ourselves, deserve acknowledgement as perfume materials as the Outlaw Perfumers create Brave New Scents. The Outlaw Perfumers of the Natural Perfumers Guild are staking out more aromatic territory, moving into the 21st Century with an attitude of conquering new frontiers. The Guild perfumers are focusing on capturing the beauty of aromatics introduced after the year 2000, or that have been made available to us via the Internet after 2000, or that we created ourselves. 
In the Brave New Scents project, the Guild perfumers are likened to the members of Huxley’s novel. Like the starring characters in the novel, these brave new perfumers go against the grain and out of bounds, thwarting the ever-expanding regulatory nanny state in order to showcase aromatic extraction feats and use 21st Century aromatics that are not necessarily condoned in mainstream perfume society.
That is some fiery language, people. The phrase "ever-explanding regulatory nanny state" has more political hot buttons in it than I can shake a tree branch at.

I will, instead, talk about Brave New World in the context of something I love though -- music. Yes, that's right, your intrepid sniffa has a mix for every theme, including this one. A song that didn't make the list, though, and I wish it had now, is Baz Luhrmann's "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)."


What isn't common knowledge is that the text was written in 1997 by a Chiacgo Tribune columnist, Mary Schmich, entitled "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young."

I cannot tell you how much this advice has served me in intervening years. I think of these words all.the.time. Seriously. All the time. A few things, in fact, I thought about this week are:
  • Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements. FN3. 
  • The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday. FN4. 
  • You are not as fat as you imagine. FN5. 
  • Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. FN6. 
  • Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. FN7. 
  • Do one thing every day that scares you. FN8.
These are  some axioms I try to live by. On another day, this could have been a different list from the piece, but the list has turned out to be exceptionally useful for a young woman more or less making her way through the world on her own.

 I remember driving, at one point, in a rental car across the west Texas desert as the sun was setting heading for Santa Fe, New Mexico to check out a college I'd been admitted. I had the windows rolled down and this song playing loudly, nothing but the still wind, my loud voice, the broad earth and empty sky. It was one of those moments when getting the hell out of dodge seemed like something I could actually reach out and touch. It was a moment pregnant with possibility. I'd decided on a whim to go. I'd taken off after work with only the barest of notice to my roommates, and no word at all to any authority figure.

I was twenty-one. I was on my own. I was about to decide which one of the new and exotic colleges I'd been accepted to would be my new home.  I could do what I wanted, go where I wanted, be who I wanted. After years of pain and fear and loss...

...I was free.

Freedom is a scary and threatening thing. In the absence of rules, you have to learn to make your own. You draw your own lines in the sands of time around who you are and who you will be. You have to decide which lines you'll let shift, and which ones your stand firm on. You have to choose what you truly value, how you will spend this one life. Will you wear sunscreen? Will you dance, will you sing?

I reread Brave New World in anticipation of this project. It has a lot of complicated imagery, a lot of mixed messages. You could come away from it with a lot of different thoughts about what is and is not appropriate, what values are or are not necessary to a free or brave or civilized world.

For me: I choose, poetry, freedom, goodness, sin. I choose art and light and adventure. I choose love and laughter and even sometimes pain and sadness, because I don't want to be numb to the suffering of others.

I choose the fullness of life.

And with that in mind I bring you the two scents from the Brave New Scents Project.
"In spite of their sadness -- because of it, even; for their sadness was the symptom of their love for one another -- the three young men were happy." 
~ Aldus Huxley's Brave New World

~ Brave New Scents ~
The Perfumers:
Rohanna Goodwin Smith of Ascent Natural Perfumes
Anya McCoy of  Anya's Garden
Jane Cate of Wing & a Prayer Perfumes
Elise Pearlstine of Bellyflowers Botanical Perfumes
Christi Meshell of Matriarch
JoAnne Bassett of JoAnne Bassett Perfumes
Adam Gottshalk of Lord's Jester
Liz Cook of One Seed Perfume
Ambrosia Jones of Perfume by Nature
Charna Ethier of Providence Perfume

The Bloggers:
All I Am A Redhead
Ca Fleure Bon (several writers here will be reviewing all the submissions)
Perfume Critic
Perfume Shrine
The Examiner

FN1. My three phobias. The worst way I can imagine dying? Driving off a bridge into open water. Makes road tripping with me along the PCH super fun for David, let me tell you. We can only drive north, with me in the passenger seat. I'm working on the heights issue, but it's slow going. It's not so much that I am trying to overcome it as that I'm trying to determine the exact contours of my fear. Glass bottom helicopter tour? Yes. Plane turbulence? No. Rollercoaster? Yes. Ferris Wheel? No. The experimentation continues...

FN2. Today is the last day of Banned Book week. Remember to give someone you love your favorite banned book or donate a copy to a local library.

FN3. Done.
FN4. This is one of my anti-"freak out" mantras.
FN5. Oh, body image issues, I loathe you.
FN6. I need to do more of this.
FN7. Another anti-"freak out" mantra.
FN8. I try, very hard, to do this. Next up? Sensory deprivation float. Why? Groupon.

1 comment:

Ines said...

I LOVE that song! :)
It makes me feel good about myself and I couldn't agree more on the phrases you took out of it.

As I still haven't read Brave New World it's now on my ist of books to read soon (I didn't have time before the project's start).