|Moon over l’Académie française (l’Institut de France)|
After two days in Ireland hearing intriguing papers on the senses, I suspect that a mild separation anxiety will set in. I’ve spent every waking hour talking about sight, sound, touch, senses beyond the familiar five, bathing, perfume, music, art and literature. A rare treat. Yet the conversation continues in the most unanticipated ways. Not twenty-four hours after presenting my research on hysteria, fragrance abuse and toxic perfume in fin-de-siècle France, I met a self-described olfactory-obsessive, who advocates daily bathing, but not for predictable reasons of social etiquette. As we wended our way through Paris traffic, my cab driver shared his thoughts on psychosomatic health and hygiene. He asserts that left unwashed, the body produces an excess of pheromone that will upset the psychological equilibrium, causing loss of concentration, poor decision-making, anxiety and abnormal sex dive. Deodorization prevents auto-toxicity. His favorite perfume is Monsieur de Givenchy II, which he can detect even in the smallest doses, or the largest crowd.
Blurry photo my own.