Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Venus Oil Perfume from Enchantments NYC is a Whispering Vixen

The Love Potion by Beatrice Offor

Venus Oil is a wearable love potion sold by Enchantments. It's a whispering vixen of a scent that's been available at New York City's oldest occult store since 1982. The fragrance is sold in simple glass bottles sans fancy packaging and photoshopped hokum. It's nothing like the olfactory pap that passes for perfume at retail counters these days.

How to Make a Love Potion by Lucia Whittaker
The description for Venus Oil on Enchantments' website reads:
A Planetary and Goddess devotional formula. Attracts love and beauty to your life. Also good for prosperity and house blessing.
Utility and simplicity infuse the description of Venus Oil, but matters of the heart are complex. The first formula for Venus Oil was created before the Internet existed. That meant reliance on mentors, aromatic grimoire, research and a little bit of magic.

The original formula for Enchantments' Venus Oil was created by Lady Rhea (Aurelia Bila) who opened Enchantments with Lady Miw (Carole Bulzone) in 1982. Lady Rhea reveals the ingredients for two versions of Venus Oil on pages 132-134 in the book The Enchanted Formulary: Blending Magickal Oils for Love, Prosperity, and Healing, which she co-wrote with Eve LeFey. Venus Oil began as a combination of Rose, Gardenia, Frangipani, Wisteria and a touch of White Diamonds perfume by Elizabeth Taylor. A second version of the oil emerged thereafter and is known as Voluptuous Venus Oil.

Ingredients in Voluptuous Venus Oil are allied with intention: Rose for love, Musk for sensuality, Orris for love, Sandalwood for compassionate love, Lilac for hypnotic seduction, Cinnamon for passion and fire, Magnolia for grace, and Hibiscus for beauty. If you are hand blending Voluptuous Venus Oil and have difficulty obtaining some of the ingredients in the formula, Lady Rhea recommends using at least four of the formula's ingredients in equal amounts (dosing follows the style of the complete formula).

The current version of Venus Oil sold at Enchantments smells like something between the formula for the original Venus Oil and Voluptuous Venus (Cinnamon and Lilac aldehydes have been detectible since I began buying Venus Oil at the store's original location). I recently purchased a one-ounce bottle of Venus Oil online and was struck by the enduring legacy of continuity in the formula—which is a lot more than you can say about the state of classic French perfumes these days.

Concentration can vary at times (by 1-3% at most) but this is a hand-blended product so that's not unusual. The transparent pink flesh color of Venus Oil is newer (it was amber hued back in the day) but it continues to unfold on skin with a soft salty sultry floralcy one would expect to find in an embodied goddess of love. Venus Oil is a whispering vixen. Blessed be.

Enchantments relies on proprietary texts for its formulas. Venus Oil is categorized as on-shelf. Others are made to order. If you purchase items online you will be taken to a secure page once you're ready to pay for the items in your cart. The cost of Venus Oil is $14 for half an ounce and $25.00 for a full ounce. The store is located in 424 East 9th Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A); 212-228-4394.

Enchantments makes a hand-blended incense version of Venus Oil that is truly divine. It burns well on incense charcoal that is not self-igniting (much healthier). Shoyeido makes a square-shaped incense charcoal that is highly recommended. It is categorized as "type B" (type A is smaller) and is available at Enfleurage NYC and

White Diamonds (1991) by Elizabeth Taylor remains a bestseller. Notes include: Neroli, Amazon Lily, Aldehydes, Egyptian Tuberose, Turkish Rose, Italian Orris, Narcissus, Jasmine, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Amber and Oakmoss.

Lady Rhea owns and operates Magickal Realms in the Bronx with her partner Lady Zoradia. The store opened in Greenwich Village in 1992 and moved to the Bronx in 1995. Magickal Realms is currently located at 72 Westchester Square; 718-892-5350.

The Enchanted Formulary: Blending Magickal Oils for Love, Prosperity, and Healing is available as an e-book. Formulas for additional elixir vitae amore can be found in the book. Used copies of the print version are priced between $38.00 and $1046.00 based on the condition of the book. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Perfect Pair: The City of Dreaming Books and L'Artisan Dzing! Perfume

The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers and Dzing! perfume by Olivia Giacobetti are a perfect pair. The novel and the fragrance are infused with the aroma of Biblichor—the smell of old books. Moers' novel visually engages the sense of smell using the printed word, hand-drawn illustrations and a bibliophilic plot. Dzing! utilizes aromatic molecules in solution to create an olfactory presence redolent of antiquarian books and wood. A third dimension emerges when the novel and perfume are experienced together.

This dimension has less to do with what the two creations have in common and everything to do with what sets them apart. Books are physically tangible. Perfumes worn for enjoyment are sensed, but cannot be seen. Perfumery and literature were not intended to meet beyond the creative concepts that lead to their manifestation and yet, they fit together like a lock and key. How can that be?

Personal use of perfume and literature require permission to enter human imagination. The interaction of memory, emotion and imagination defines the experience of reading and smelling perfumes—it's how we form pictures in our mind and allow past, present and projected understandings of truth and beauty to interact with each other. When experienced in the right combination perfume and literature can amplify each other's essence and expand the notion of what it means to be human.

International Circus published by J.F. Schreiber  (published in the late 19th Century) via Theirault's

The City of Dreaming Books takes place in Bookholm, an urban setting inhabited by a carnival of imaginary creatures devoted to literature. Books line the walls of personal libraries, bookshops, cafes, and secret spaces hidden in the city's catacombs where the forces of good and evil battle over books. Bibliophilia reigns in Bookholm. The perfume of old books and the desire to acquire them can be smelled everywhere.

Dzing! by L'Artisan Parfumeur is a fragrance inspired by a pop-up book featuring an old-time circus. The wearable liquid zylotheque embraces different forms of wood, reminding perfume lovers of the smell of dusty leather-bound books filled with sweet aging paper. L'Artisan's website describes Dzing! as:
...a magical evocation of a circus. There is the scent of warm hay, cardboard cutouts, sawdust on the ground, and saddle leather as pretty girls ride by. Dzing! is a circus with a bohemian soul captured in a fun theatrical pop-up book. As the book closes so do the last notes of the paper waft gently. 

Optimus Yarnspinner, Narrator and Protagonist, by Walter Moers

Wearing Dzing! perfume while reading The City of Dreaming Books enlivens the text and human imagination. The experience is highly evocative when combined with Optimus Yarnspinner's description of the bibliosmic paradise of Bookholm:
You can smell the place from a long way off. It reeks of old books. It’s as if you’ve opened the door of a gigantic second-hand bookshop – as if you’ve stirred up a cloud of unadulterated book dust and blown the detritus from millions of mouldering volumes straight into your face. There are folks who dislike the smell and turn on their heel as soon as it assails their nostrils. It isn’t an agreeable odor, granted. Hopelessly antiquated, it is eloquent of decay and dissolution, mildew and mortality. But it also has other associations: a hint of acidity reminiscent of lemon trees in flower; the stimulating scent of old leather; the acrid, intelligent tang of printer’s ink; and, overlying all else, a reassuring aroma of wood.
I’m not talking about living wood or resinous forests and fresh pine needles; I mean felled, stripped, pulped, bleached, rolled and guillotined wood – in short, paper. Ah yes, my intellectually inquisitive friends, you too can smell it now, the odor of forgotten knowledge and age-old traditions of craftsmanship. Very well, let us quicken our pace! The odor grows stronger and more alluring, and the sight of those gabled houses more distinct with every step towards Bookholm we take. Hundreds, nay, thousands of slender chimneys project from the city’s roofs, darkening the sky with a pall of greasy smoke and compounding the odor of books with other scents: the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and freshly baked bread, of charcoal-broiled meat studded with herbs. Again we redouble our rate of advance, and our burning desire to open a book becomes allied with the hankering for a cup of hot chocolate flavored with cinnamon and a slice of pound cake warm from the oven.    
—The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers1

Perfumer Olivia Giacobetti

Anyone who reads The City of Dreaming Books can envision Optimus Yarnspinner having Bookholm bee-bread and mulled coffee with a perfumer. They would exchange words for scents and scents for words, occasionally disagreeing on which species in Zamonia is best at describing smells, but in complete agreement that supersmellers are equally creative, psychic and neurotic.

Let's engage imagination and pretend that the perfumer conversing with Optimus Yarnspinner is Olivia Giacobetti, the creator of Dzing!. The two sit at opposite sides of a table inside a Zamonian cafe. As an inhabitant of Bookholm Giacobetti takes the form of an erudite reptilian crossed with a slow loris.

The Slow Loris

The slow loris in Giacobetti exudes a cautious languid beauty. The perfumer has an incredible sense of smell and the skill to communicate using odor alone. She also possesses the lethal weapon of all slow lorises; the capacity to manufacture and issue poison through her body in self-defense. She can do this by biting or applying slow loris poison by touch; she is known for the latter.

Optimus Yarnspinner picks Giacobetti's brain with characteristic braggadocio, but it's not long before the writer finds himself tongue-tied by a bee stinger. It's the fugu-esque risk associated with eating Bookholm bee-bread, which consists of roasted bees slathered in peppered honey on freshly baked rye bread.

It's an eerie experience when combined with the presence of a perfumer with slow loris blood. Yarnspinner knows he hasn't been bitten or touched, but he's paranoid nonetheless. His only reassurance is that he can still smell and that means he's still breathing.

A few intellectual touchés from Ms. Giacobetti follow the encounter with Yarnspinner. She returns to her lab and creates an olfactory representation of Bookholm's bee-bread, as it is nothing like bee bread in the human world (including the use of a hyphen when the word is spelled out).

The perfume formula includes Szechuan Buttons for a tasty electrical "zing" effect, followed by a hint of caraway and ergot floating on a background of warm butter, honey and musk. The ergot is mildly psychoactive. Its inclusion in the formula is not enough to cause poisoning or hallucination, but it's enough to make one feel lighthearted and giddy. Perfume critics in Bookholm call this aspect of Giacobetti's formulation style "the transparent effect", but it's not meant to be taken literally.

Booklings Illustrated by Walter Moers

A few days later Yarnspinner receives Giacobetti's Bee-Bread perfume by bookling post. He smells it and remembers that he was stung in Giacobetti's presence, but survived the bee sting and avoided what he feared most—the gift of slow loris poison in exchange for being a pompous ass. He smells the perfume and tells himself that meeting the perfumer was worth the risk.

The imaginary chapter is now closed and we return to Dzing! to find out why this bookish perfume smells the way it does.

Dzing! By L'Artisan Parfumeur

The notes in Dzing! include: Leather, Fur, Wood, Talc, Iris and Caramel. One could easily find these smells in the aroma profile of books (as researched by scientists) and Yarnspinner's aforementioned description of Bookholm's scentscape (an account that would make smell researcher Kate McLean green with envy).

Does this mean that these ingredients are literally in the formula? Yes and no. There are naturals, nature-identical molecules and synthetic molecules in the formula for Dzing!. Think of the ingredients as olfactory synonyms, antonyms and homonyms with different colors. They create complementary contrasts and beautiful harmonies when the alchemy is just right.

Bee Bread by Chris Tonnesen / Nordic Food Lab

Intrigued by the idea of combining literary passages with perfumes? Make it a reality. It's an experience that will change the way you think about literature and perfumery (especially the latter if you've never experienced olfactory curriculum inclusive of the arts, which is the case for most people who've been educated in the United States). Combine the right literary passage with the right scent and you'll have an analog version of virtual reality. You can add flavor to the mix if you include food and drink, which is the formula for a memorable dinner party.

Aromatize your imagination and read The City of Dreaming Books under the spell of Dzing! perfume. It's a great #SmellLiterature experience and one you can replicate using other books and perfumes. Make sure you have a few slices of warm rye bread slathered with peppered honey at the ready. You can skip the roasted bees unless eating bugs is something you enjoy. Just watch out for the stingers.


Zamonia is an imaginary continent that deserves exploration. The following books are a passport for English readers as author Walter Moer's native language is German: The 13½ Lives of Captain BluebearRumo and His Miraculous Adventures, The City of Dreaming Books, The Alchemaster's Apprentice, and The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books. Visit the Walter Moers page on Amazon for details. P.S. Follow The City of Dreaming Books with The Alchemaster's Apprentice on your reading adventure as the latter is about food and magic!

True "bee bread" is a fermented bee product consisting of pollen mixed with nectar and digestive fluids that are stored in empty honeycomb cells sealed with honey. It doesn't include "detoxified" bees that have their stingers removed prior to roasting. That twist is the work of author Walter Moers' imagination.

The story about a meeting between Optimus Yarnspinner and perfumer Olivia Giacobetti is purely fictional, and inspired by every Walter Moers book translated from German to English. There are a few truth-inspired elements that fragrance lovers will recognize as writing this was an exercise of imagination. I plan on making the Bee-Bread perfume described in this post for a future Smell & Tell event. It will be tamer than 2017's Simulacra of Rat, which was quite memorable.

Dzing! perfume can be purchased online from L'Artisan Parfumeur and various luxury fragrance boutiques. Affordable sample sizes of perfume can be purchased online at Aedes de Venustas, Lucky Scent, and The Perfumed Court (request vintage Dzing! if it's available).

Olivia Giacobetti's fragrances are known for an unusual quality of transparency that magnifies the quiet and sublimates the loud. Mark Benkhe reviewed a number of her perfumes on Colognoisseur and all of them are worth reading.

Glass Petal Smoke created the hashtag #SmellLiterature and uses it to tag aromatic passages in literature on the blog and Twitter. It inspired Nosetalgia: The Smell of Books and Aromatic Passages in Literature, a 2016 Smell & Tell program at the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) focused on literature and scent pairings, as well as the smell of books.

Spoiler Alert: Nosetalgia Part II is in development as Smell & Tell celebrates its sixth anniversary year in 2018. Smell & Tell is the longest running program in the history of the Ann Arbor District Library. Where else would you attend an event called Haute Skank: An Olfactory Menagerie of Animalic Ingredients in Perfumery or The Plague Doctor's Cabinet of Olfactory Curiosities? Only in Ann Arbor, Michigan and only at a five-star library like AADL.

1Walter Moers, "To Bookholm" in The City of Dreaming Books, (New York: The Overlook Press, 2007), 10.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Doorman's Repose: Wafts of Yatagan and Heure Exquise Perfume

The Doorman's Repose is a wonderful children's book written by award-winning illustrator Chris Raschka. Each chapter is a vignette of New York City apartment life as lived by its residents. The chapter titled "Anna and Pee Wee" contains an interesting passage involving olfactory impressions at a classical music concert that resonate with the aromas of Yatagan by Caron and Heure Exquise by Annick Goutal. There's one small hitch to this story—the protagonists aren't human.

Anna and Pee Wee are a pair of mice who've adopted the professions of the tenants whose walls they inhabit. Anna is a psychiatrist and Pee Wee is a jazz bass player. Each mouse has a different way of seeing and being in the world, but the differences in their personalities manage to bring them closer together. Each mouse is transformed when they agree to enter the world of the other, and step over the threshold of difference in order to solve a problem.

Pee Wee experiences a bad episode of stage fright and turns to Anna for psychiatric analysis. She prescribes two-page readings of Encyclopedia Britannica so Pee Wee can apply reason to fear when he's feeling afraid. The remedy is metaphorically described as a way to "shrink his heart" and "increase his brain" because Pee Wee is a sensitive mouse with a generous heart. The prescription cures Pee Wee who previously used the encyclopedia's pages as his bedding.

Anna has a professional crisis of conscience two days after helping Pee Wee overcome his fears. She lacks empathy for her patients and is afraid that her heart has grown small. This makes Anna anxious so Pee Wee recommends that they attend a classical music concert as the antidote for Anna's "shrinking heart". Anna has never been to an orchestral performance before, but accepts the invitation and is transformed.

Anna's experience of transformation is poignant. The two mice hide inside in a traveling bass case and arrive at New York City's Lincoln Center to experience Brahms Fourth Symphony. Anna and Pee Wee get settled inside the pocket of a "queenly looking" woman's fur coat, which contains silk gloves and a scented handkerchief. Anna is excited and nervous; she's hoping the live concert will allow her to have a bigger heart and solve her problem. A cure ensues as she's led by the nose:
Outside the pocket, the roarishness of the human voices was beginning to diminish. Anna and Pee Wee cautiously poked their noses out of the pocket. The lights of the hall had dimmed. By contrast, the lights directed onto the stage seemed incredibly dazzling, sending flashes of fiery light from each reflected French horn, piccolo, and cuff link. The wood of the stringed instruments glowed in warm browns and reds and near blacks. 
Then a fine-looking man in a tuxedo strode quickly across the stage, stopping briefly to shake the concertmaster's hand, and stepped onto the podium: the conductor. 
Waiting for what would come next, Anna breathed in the rich symphony of smells that washed through her, exploding almost like fireworks in her nose. The rosin, the oiled woods and brasses, the wood of the stage, the thick velvet of the seats, the scent of the fur coat, and the lady's elegant perfume, and even the rising smell of the musicians as they began to sweat in anticipation of the evening's work. 
The conductor raised his baton and the smell of sweat rose with it. 
Suddenly down came the baton, and the curling wave of sound that it unleashed knocked Anna tail over head back down into the luxurious pocket. 
"It's too much! It's too much!" said Anna. "I think my heart will break!" Pee Wee reached a paw down to Anna and pulled her back up. "Don't worry, it's just Brahms. You always feel that way with Brahms. 
—The Doorman's Repose by Chris Raschka1

Mice have a well-developed sense of smell so it's no surprise that smell, in addition to the sound of Brahms Fourth Symphony being played in a concert hall, transforms Anna. Yatagan by Caron and Heure Exquise by Annick Goutal perfectly embody distinct facets of Anna's olfactory experience by ingredient and effect. Smelling these perfumes adds dimension to the cited text if they are experienced together.

For a fragrant representation of the smell of instruments, musicians, the conductor and Brahms' Fourth Symphony reach for a whiff of Yatagan by Caron. Perfumer Vincent Marcello designed this flowerless bouquet around a chypre structure that is the hallmark of classic luxury perfumes. What Yatagan lacks in floralcy it more than makes up for in arboreal aromatics. It's positioned as a man's fragrance, but can easily be worn by women as the perfume stays close to the skin and complements everyone who wears it.

The lexicon of perfumery borrows concepts from music. Ingredients are described as notes and perfumes are called compositions. Yatagan's symphony of smells can be found in these notes: Petitgrain, Lavender Leaf, Geranium Leaf, Pine, Fennel, Basil, Artemisia, Oakmoss, Musk, Woods, Patchouli, Castoreum, Labdanum and Styrax.

The smell of elegance embodied by the perfumed queenly woman with the fur coat at the Brahms concert is Heure Exquise by Annick Goutal. Heure Exquise (the exquisite hour) is a luxury perfume inspired by the moment day turns into night. It's not the perfume of dusk, but rather an expression of the transformation that takes place when light fades into darkness. This sense of mystery and timelessness is experienced when the lights go out in a concert hall and all you can see is the illuminated stage.

Heure Exquise contains an expensive material derived from the rhizome of the Florentine Iris (Iris pallida). The rhizome is called Orris Root. The high cost of this material is associated with its cultivation, aging and processing. Orris Root needs to age for three to five years before it can be used in perfumery. It's powdery, violet, earthy and creamy facets add a sophisticated twist to perfume formulas. Notes in Heure Exquise include: Rose, Florentine Iris, Sandalwood and Vanilla. The perfume was created by perfumer Isabelle Doyenne and Annick Goutal.

The sense of smell is memory's sense, but the door to meaningful olfactory perception isn't opened by nostalgia alone. Nostalgia wouldn't exist without curiosity and a willingness to enter into mystery. Allowing life to take you places that you've never been is better than getting caught up in the revolving door of remembrance. One must take chances, try new things and face their fears. The chapter dedicated to Anna and Pee Wee in The Doorman's Repose by Chris Raschka makes this perfectly clear, and proves that reading children's books isn't just for kids.

This is the third in a series of posts about literary passages with an olfactory twist. A first and second post precedes this one. Each article includes a recommended perfume and/or raw material for smelling that resonates with the text. Glass Petal Smoke suggests experiencing the fragrance(s) while reading the associated text. Get your nose inside a book. The hashtag for these posts is #SmellLiterature.

Some say that Heure Exquise smells like fresh American currency neatly tucked away in a haute leather purse containing lipstick and cosmetic face powder. You'll have to smell the perfume to see if your nose concurs with this association. The smell of cosmetics is a reference to the addition of Rose oil in lipstick and face powder (Bulgarian Rose is still used to scent face powders by Caron). Orris Root has a history of being added to cosmetic face powder as well. Glass Petal Smoke thinks new money smells like ink, linen paper and alpha-isomethyl ionone, which is a bit like Orris Root.

A whiff of something from our past can open doors and catapult us back in time. The temptation to fixate on memories is tempting. This is especially true as we age and the reality of impermanence sets in. The antidote for getting stuck in the past is staying curious and cultivating a sense of wonder. Get outside and explore the smells around you. Use this perspective to inform ordinary things in your life and you will encounter extraordinary things. Reading children's books is also recommended. Anna did not prescribe this remedy but Glass Petal Smoke thinks she'd approve.

If you'd like to know more about the smell of ingredients referenced in this article you can use A Small Guide to Nature's Fragrances by scientist Bo Jensen.

Image of Rosin by Just Plain Bill.

Image of Two Mice by Natasha Fadeeva.

1Chris Raschka, "Anna and Pee Wee" in The Doorman's Repose (New York: The New York Review Children's Collection, 2017), 119-120.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Archy Stillman and the Perfume of Commes des Garçons 2

When a human nose bends sinister there is more than reek to deal with. This is foreshadowed in an excerpt from A Double Barrelled Detective Story by Mark Twain. Five-year-old Archy Stillman's sense of smell is a superpower. Guided by his mother's counsel, he agrees to keep his talent a secret. The young man is on the receiving end of manipulation that has a foul air, but things aren't quite so black and white.
During his absence she had stepped to the bookcase, taken several books from the bottom shelf, opened each, passed her hand over a page, noting its number in her memory, then restored them to their places. Now she said:
"I have been doing something while you have been gone, Archy. Do you think you can find out what it was? 
The boy went to the bookcase and got out the books that had been touched, and opened them at pages which had been stroked. 
The mother took him in her lap and said, 
"I will answer your question now dear. I have found out that in one way you are quite different from other people. You can see in the dark, you can smell what other people cannot, you have the talents of a bloodhound. They are good an valuable things to have, but you must keep the matter a secret. If people found out, they would speak of you as an odd child, a strange child, and children would be disagreeable to you, and give you  nicknames. In this world one must be like everybody else if he doesn't want to provoke scorn or envy or jealousy. It is a great and fine distinction which has been born to you, and I am glad: but you will keep it a secret for mamma's sake, won't you?" 
The child promised without understanding.
A Double Barrelled Detective Story by Mark Twain

The sense of smell isn't good or bad on its own. How the nose is put to use determines how it will be judged. If this sounds like the beginning of a sermon you are hearing the echoes of an olfactory artifact whispering in your ear. The belief that the human sense of smell is inferior to that of animals was perpetuated by fear-based interpretations of religion and old science, each of which imposed a moral yardstick on the sense of smell.

A Double Barrelled Detective Story was written towards the end of the Victorian period and published in 1902. This period in England's history emphasized a refinement of the senses that traveled across the Atlantic to the United States accompanied by vestiges of Puritanism.

Nose-averse moralists believed that smells possessed one of two natures—good or evil. Scientists dismissed human olfactory prowess, emphasizing that the sense of smell became less important to humans when they abandoned their nose-to-the-ground ways and began walking upright. These former cultural norms encouraged keeping one's civilized nose to the grindstone above the olfactory business in which animal noses trade.

Physical uprightness is a metaphor for moralism as it devalues four-legged creatures that have no problem sticking their nose in anything as long as it satisfies their curiosity and leads to a desired outcome related to survival (food, a mate, devastation of a predator, etc.). A third reality exists in the duality of moral contrast, but it takes a really good nose to sniff out what an artist's eyes see quite clearly; black and white make gray and gray, though a combination of two colors, is a color in its own right.

Commes des Garçons 2 perfume was launched in 1999 and formulated for designer Rei Kawakubo by perfumer Mark Buxton. The fragrance—housed in a bottle with the number two drawn in a child-like hand—is inspired by Japanese Sumi ink used by temple monks in calligraphic painting. Sumi ink is made from the ashes of pine trees, mixed with binding agents (including aromatics) and molded into bars. The aesthetics of Sumi-e rely on capturing the "spirit of a thing" while painting it—whether the subject is real or imagined. This unseen element exists between complements and contrasts. It is the gray matter between darkness and light.

The candle version of Commes des Garçons 2 is an olfactory representation of the duality embedded in Archy Stillman's innocence and his superhuman sense of smell. Experience has yet to teach him that a gift, inborn or material, can be used against him. The reek of scheming cloaked as maternal concern is lost on him because the flame of the candle is his mother's love.

Archy Stillman's innocence floats above a circular pool of melting candle wax perfumed with white magnolia flowers and black Sumi ink. In his mind's eye Archy sees a temple monk forming the crescent of a watery moon with the tip of his paintbrush. The flower's fragrance masks the "spirit of a thing" that is beyond Archy's sense of smell—the colorless arc of duplicity that lives in the shadows.

This is the second in a series of posts about literary passages with an olfactory twist. The first post can be found here.  Each article includes a recommended perfume and/or raw material for smelling that resonates with the text. Glass Petal Smoke suggests experiencing the fragrance(s) while reading the associated text. Get your nose inside a book. The hashtag for these posts is #SmellLiterature.

Modern interpretations of the value of the sense of smell are shifting. Scientific studies continue to debunk myths that characterize the human sense of smell as inferior to that of animals. This isn't news to the gaming community where possessing an enhanced sense of smell is revered as a superpower. You may actually know what a dog's nose knows. You may also be able to smell like one according to a recent study led by Dr. John McGann of the McGann Lab, but you'll have to get over multiple meanings attached to the word "smell" and get your nose out of your armpit.

Ingredients that comprise the aroma of Commes des Garçons 2 perfume includeInk, Incense, Amber, Labdanum, Patchouli, Chinese Cedarwood, New Aldehydes, Cumin, Angelica Root, Vetiver, Cade Oil, Absolute Mate, Magnolia Flower and Leaf Absolute.