“There are so many unsung heroines and heroes at this broken moment in our collective story, so many courageous persons who, unbeknownst to themselves, are holding together the world by their resolute love or contagious joy. Although I do not know your names, I can feel you out there.”—David Abram (Becoming Animal)
“I wonder if it isn't much simpler, and more elegant, to assume that consciousness is not at all a property of individual persons, or even creatures. It feels much more pragmatic, and useful, to allow that awareness is a quality of the encompassing biosphere. Sure, there is interiority to the psyche, something inward about the mind. Yet that inwardness is not because the psyche is inside us, no: rather we are inside it. The interiority of consciousness results from the fact that we are bodily situated within it, corporeally immersed in awareness with the whole of our animal organism. We are carnally embedded—along with all of the animals and the plants and even the drifting clouds—in a psyche that is not ours, but is rather the Earth's.”—David Abram in The Environmental Crisis and the Psyche: A Conversation with David Abram and Patricia Damery.
“Spinoza challenged the older philosopher’s segregation of mental substance from material substance, arguing instead that mind and matter were not two separable substances but simply two different attributes, or aspects, of one and the same substance, which he called Deus, sive Natura, “God, or Nature.” This unitary substance could appear either as matter, on the one hand, or as mind, on the other, depending upon the vantage we viewed it from. Just as, according to Spinoza, the vast and originating power that his contemporaries called “God” was nothing other than the creative dynamism and intelligence of Nature itself, so the human mind was simply the specific sensitivity and sentience of that part of nature we recognize as a human body. Every material body or thing, for Spinoza, had its mental aspect—all things were ensouled. The human body was the outward, material aspect of the human mind, as the mind was nothing other than the internal, felt experience of the body. “The mind and the body are one and the same thing …”—David Abram, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology
smells! Dark, stygian smells gliding over the rippled glass of the lake to mingle with the aromatic dank of the soil underfoot and the high-pitched scent of the green needles, and a faintly fermented fragrance prying open your nostrils (the recent scat of some creature still steaming in the near woods). There’s also the musty decay of a collapsed trunk, and the darkly laughing scent of cool water lapping up against the shore) infused with the chemistry of tadpoles and trout and the tannin of drowned leaves), and a host of other whiffs sometimes merged and sometimes distinct. all sparkling like wine in some part of your brain that had earlier been rocked to sleep by the soporific dazzle of sunbeams, but has now been startled into attentive life by this more full-blooded magic, as though your mammalian intelligence has abruptly dropped anchor and suddenly found itself really here, bodily afoot in these damp woods.
- David Abram, Becoming Animal
“There are so many unsung heroines and heroes at this broken moment in our collective story, so many courageous persons who, unbeknownst to themselves, are holding together the world by their resolute love or contagious joy. Although I do not know your names, I can feel you out there.”—
David Abram (Becoming Animal)
“ The experiencing body… is not a self-enclosed object, but an open, incomplete entity. This openness is evident in the arrangement of the senses: I have these multiple ways of encountering and exploring the world–listening with my ears, touching with my skin, seeing with my eyes, tasting with my tongue, smelling with my nose–and all of these various powers or pathways continually open outward from the perceiving body, like different paths diverging from a forest. Yet my experience of the world is not fragmented; I do not commonly experience the visible appearance of the world as in any way separable from its audible aspect, or from the myriad textures that offer themselves to my touch… Thus, my divergent senses meet up with each other in the surrounding world, converging and commingling in the things I perceive. We may think of the sensing body as a kind of open circuit that completes itself only in things, and in the world. The differentiation of the senses, as well as their spontaneous convergence in the world at large, ensures that I am a being destined for relationship: it is primarily through my engagement with what is not me that I effect the integration of my senses, and thereby experience my own unity and coherence. ”—Abram, David. 1996. The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human-World. New York: Vintage Books, p. 125).
“What if thought is not born within the human skull, but is a creativity proper to the body as a whole, arising spontaneously from the slippage between an organism and the folding terrain that it wanders? What if the curious curve of thought is engendered by the difficult eros and tension between our flesh and the flesh of the earth?”—David Abram, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology
“I want to ask, finally, if it is possible that our ecstatic or mystical experiences grow precisely out of our receptivity to solicitations not from some other non-material world but from the rest of this world, from that part of our own sphere which our linguistic prejudices keep us from really seeing, hearing, and feeling--from, that is, the entire nonhuman world of life and awareness.”—David Abram, in Notes from Thami Valley (as quoted in Dolores LaChapelle’s essay On the Blue Glacier)
“[The "great chain of being"] which depends upon an absolute distinction between matter and spirit, has done much to certify our human dominion over the rest of nature. Although it originates in the ancient Mediterranean and reaches its height in medieval Christianity, this old notion was never really displaced by the scientific revolution. Instead it was translated into a new, up-to-date form by a science still tacitly reliant on the assumption of a limitless human mind (or spirit) investigating a basically determinate natural world (or matter.)”—David Abram, Becoming Animal
“But in a civilization that has long fallen under the spell of its own signs, the conviviality between the child and the animate earth is soon severed, interrupted by the adult insistence (expressed in countless forms of grown-up speech and behavior) that real sentience, or subjectivity, is the exclusive possession of humankind. This collective insistence could not displace the compelling of the child's direct experience were it not for all the technologies that rapidly come to interpose themselves between the child's developing senses and the earthly sensuous, enclosing her ever more tightly within a purely human realm. The broken bond between the child and the living land will later be certified, and rendered permanent, by her active entrance into an economy that engages the land primarily as a stock of resources to be appropriated for our own, exclusively human, purposes.”—David Abram, Becoming Animal
“When we are really awake to the life of our senses-when we are really watching with our animal eyes and listening with our animal ears- we discover that nothing in the world around us is directly experienced as a passive or inanimate object. Each thing, each entity, meets our gaze with its own secrets...”—David Abram
Let’s sit down here…on the open prairie, where we can’t see a highway or a fence. Let’s have no blankets to sit on, but feel the ground with our bodies, the earth, the yielding shrubs. Let’s have the grass for a mattress, experiencing its sharpness and its softness. Let us become like stones, plants, and trees. Let us be animals, think and feel like animals. Listen to the air. You can hear it, feel it, smell it, taste it. Woniyaa wokan—the holy air—which renews all by its breath. Woniya, woniya wakan—spirit, life, breath, renewal—it means all that. Woniya—we sit together, don’t touch, but something is there; we feel it between us, as a presence. A good way to start thinking about nature, talk about it. Rather talk to it, talk to the rivers, to the lakes, to the winds as to our relatives.
— John Fire Lame Deer, Quoted in David Abram’s The Spell of the Sensuous
What are you smelling right now?
Re-form your mind around the naturally scented nature of life and pay attention to your nose. He’s always present to the essential potency of the fragrant world, despite your attention might be pointing elsewhere.
At all times we are exposed to smells. Every thing has a smell. Books smell, carpets smell, cement smells, socks smell, our computer smells.
If we were blind, the nose would become the primary window of perception: we would see and know the world through the spacial layering of olfactory molecules, we would encounter Scent Scapes and embody without any doubt a very different life.
Do we really know in what measure the world impacts our being through the complicated mechanism of odor coding?
Neuroscience decodes and offers us (momentary) glimpses of understanding into the microscopic domain of synapses, the amygdala and the hypothalamus. But right here, the sensuous world, the creaturely world encountered by our animal senses is speaking to our nose. Now.
The art of perfume making is a refinement of the capacity to perceive, code and translate the thousand tongues of nature’s smells as individual voices or as chords.
If you were introduced to clove absolute, what would it have to say to you in this moment? How does red turkish rose petals talk to indian sandalwood from Mysore? And what does their marriage emotionally evoke in you? What does Jasmine grandiflorium say that is not expressed by Jasmine Sambac? What do you prefer? Will the animal like smell of Himalayan costus root welcome the clean sapphire glow of french lavender absolute? Will it remind you of something that has been hidden in your memory for 30 years?
Botanical perfumery, has invited me to dare, try, think out of the box, make mistakes, be surprised and humbled all at the same time. I’m possessed by the scented world. I think in smells and constantly create perfumes as I imagine, remember, encounter some thing that catches my attention. The way light hits an apricot blooming branch and outlines the silouette of a woman as the branch shadow hits the moist soil. When I witness something like that, it immediately translates into a perfume. The essence of that specific experience to me has a smell. I can’t tell yet what it is and how I will assemble it, but I know it’s there. That’s the beginning of a perfume.
I dedicate my time to collect images, experiences, insights and “moments” that I bring back to my alchemical lab where I (attempt to) re-create the perfect perfume that already exists in my inner emotional and scented landscape, the mysterious work that I’m in service of, is that of being an accurate translator, that bridge..
My objective is to create emotionally charged olfactory landscapes that will be loved and shared by many, evoking in each and every one a different and absolutely unique experience.