A Fragrant Universe

May 10, 2015 at 8:01 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

imagesTitle: Pheromones and Animal Behavior

Author: Tristram D. Wyatt

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Genre: Science / Animal Communication

Length: 391 pages

“[…] one doesn’t realise how much ‘savor’ is smell. You smell people, you smell books, you smell the city, you smell the spring – maybe not consciously, but as rich unconscious background to everything else. My whole world was suddenly radically poorer.” – O. Sacks, The man who mistook his wife for a hat

So completely fascinated with the human scent and sense of smell this month, I picked up a textbook on pheromones at the public library.

What I’ve learned is that I can read up on everything there is to know scientifically about ones sense of smell and how they use it, but I still won’t completely understand all the nuances of how that affects interpersonal communications. Correction – I understand how, but not why it affects us so completely.

Having this knowledge of the how should enable me to shut it off when it does not suit my emotional well being, right? After all, knowledge is power.

No. We, as humans, are too complex for that. (Or simple, depending on how you look at it.) Our emotions can even heighten our perception of these smells, tie that to menstrual cycles and memory and we’re pretty much screwed to always have knee jerk reactions to certain scents whether we like it or not.

Even Wyatt states in the closing chapter of his textbook:

“One of the major challenges to human pheromone research is that of designing rigorous experiments that eliminate other cues and variables. As well as the complexity of odour that being a mammal brings, humans are also complex emotionally. This makes us doubly difficult as experimental subjects.”

I absolutely adore the smell of a well cared for old book. But the effect that beautiful freshly cut grass mixed with vanilla, a tinge of dust, and leather has on me can be overwhelming or something I barely note in passing, depending on the mood I’m already in.

All this sensory awareness just reminds me of a John Oehler book I read awhile back, Aphrodesia – and led me to finally committing to pick up the book Perfume by Suskind (which I haven’t done just yet, but will soon). People have been talking about it for years, I’ve been shelving copies of it at the bookstore in droves for as long as I’ve worked there. It’s even on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list, but I don’t read the books on that list merely because they are on it – I try to let those titles come to me organically via other means of gathering more books for my TBR pile. All of these things in Suskind’s favorite, but his work never really moved me until now.

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Adventures in Freelancing

May 7, 2015 at 5:11 am (In So Many Words) (, , , , )

I was scouring the internet looking to see what Cosmo was all about.  I’m a freelance writer, I should know these things.  Also, I was submitting an article to them after receiving an ad for blog contributors.  Of course, I had to consult my college room mate, that’s what gal pals are for, right?  “I have no idea what I’m doing…”  She read what I wrote, checked it for grammar, and helped me pick my already published content to include on my Cosmo tailored resume.

After I hit send I messaged her, “I did it.  I sent it.  That would be cool if they picked that up.”

“Agreed,” she responded, “Then I could finally learn YOUR 19 Top Secrets To A Hands-Free Female Orgasm.”

  1. Like the person you are having sex with – or don’t, sometimes that helps too.

“Both work with my husband,” she piped in.

2. Take a bath and shave your legs.  This is an important step to remember when you are over 30 and have children.  Or, you know, don’t – if you’re a dirty hippie, get off on the smell of human grease, and think hair friction will truly light your fire.

“Hair friction can help at times, yes.  Continue…”

3. Despite all your favorite chick-flicks – don’t order Chinese food in advance.  All that fried goodness, fried rice, and MSG will just make you feel gross.  You will not have the appeal of a genetically blessed tiny acrobatic Asian after you order Chinese food.  You will instead have sweet and sour sauce drippage down your right boob from where you almost lost the chop sticks.  You will feel fat and bloaty after *so much* rice, and, to top it all off, you’ll smell like shrimp rolls and crab puffs.

4. Make sure all the children are asleep, or completely preoccupied.  Nothing is worse than that ten minute quickie turning into, “But mommy, why can’t I come in?  Mommy, I need another fruit pouch.  Mommy…” Knock. Knock. Knock.  “Mommy…”

“Basically,” my husband says as he reads over my shoulder, “You’re saying people should have sex with somebody.”

“Yes.  Of course.”

5. Have sex with a human.

“Yes, hands free otherwise implies non-masturbatory.  You’re welcome, Jonathan,” my Emily says to my husband.

“This article is not Cosmo material.  You’re supposed to be talking about leading people in the direction of using hands-free toys.  Like using a sub-wolfer.  Or, rubbing your vagina against a fence post,” my husband continues to say.

I have no idea what he is saying to me right now.  I don’t want to get off on a radio… I want to have sex with a person.

“Number six needs to be drive a shitty car with old shocks down a shitty road,” he tells me.

I’ve done that.  That works.  It was accidental of course.

6. Drive a poorly maintenanced junker.

“Does hands free include my hands?  I’m just wondering what your requirements were for hands free,” my husband is way too into this.

7. Use someone else’s hands.

We can explore all our options later…

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