In Perfume, Patrick Suskind describes the birth of the protagonist during such Great Stinks, and how his odd olfactory sense gave him a different understanding of the world. There is this element of Grenouille that I totally relate to: how the smell is the soul of things, how when you smell something or someone you take that thing or person inside of you, capturing their essence, triggering an emotional response that is irresistible, cause it goes straight to your own soul. It is soul speaking to soul.
As much as I love perfumes, the fragrances and notes expressing movement, colour, textures which are incredibly seducing to me, the experience of the other is the sensualist experience, that believe that the senses are ultimately the only way to know the other, as an unspoken language.
Susskind uses one theme that is dear to me as a sensualist: the senses are the only way the outer world has to communicate with the individual. The senses are that means to know the other, to experience and experiment. Whatever you think, elaborate or devise, must be grounded in a sensorial experience, otherwise it is simply you acting upon yourself.
Being called a Sybarite once, was an outrage directed at me! An outrage that I grew accustomed with. Whereas a sybarite displays a taste for beauty and sensuous delights, seeking to achieve a better world on an individual level first, and then at relational level, by turning his community ideally a source of pleasure, I am much more the epicurean sensualist, who seeks to understand the constitution of the world, individually and relationally, and have little or no true want. I enjoy eating good food, but I don´t need to do it, I love sex and enjoy it, but I can live without it, and when I practice it, I do relish in the amount of information is provides about me and my partner, the empirical setting it gives to theories and the intense stimuli to sensation it provides. Sex per se is a physical need, like eating and drinking, and should not be ranked above them.
Knowledge per se is nothing, unless it serves a purpose, unless it is something that has na input – the experience of the world – and an output, a product, be it the enjoyment, the pleasure, the creation of another experience, so that the loss of one is the gain of another.
It is impossible to appreciate light without darkness, pleasure without discomfort, food without a bit of hunger, and threading this thin line is the anguish of humans. It is also logical (for me) that you can´t put the human experience into compartments; you might separate fields of study, but the separation is artificial since the ultimate object is the same. Psychology and Physics are both human experiences of the world, and you use different tools of approach. The experience and the tool make the field, but the human (as part of the world) remains the same.
As bound as we seem to be by the senses, they are what give us freedom. The paradox is beautiful. And I am making this up as I think, so please forgive me if I contradict myself later.
When I was a Young girl I thought it was unfair that the school inspector acted so tough on us. He was tall (for me) and burly and had this booming voice and I felt intimidated by his size. And I have never been intimated and not fought back. I remember I climbed a stack of benches behind where he was standing, cause I wanted to see the patio from his standpoint. We were not so little after all. When he caught me, he took me to the principal´s office, where I explained to her what I was doing and why. She called my mother who asked her to forgive me cause I was a little weird. I was not intimidated by him, never again.
The scene where the kids climb over the teacher´s desk on Dead Poet´s Society made me cry, because in a sense, I did it myself, out of my own freewill, when I was 10 y-o.
Seeing the world from a different standpoint made a difference for me. The actual seeing made me understand that man as a human being not different from me and my friends. We had our roles in that environment, but we were not essentially unequal. What my elders considered adventurous I deemed learning experiments. Sensorial or sensualist experiences.
Reaching out to the world with all my senses… at 46, I still do it.