Seeing in odors
I couldn’t tell whether the color entering my nostrils was lilac or brown. I didn’t know what I was seeing through this virtual blizzard. Was it the lavender of our terrace back home in Beirut, or the old books resting peacefully at my grandmother’s house? Was I trapped in some childish hallucinations, or are there actual pixels for odors?
In reality, what I inhaled through my nostrils was the scent produced by an old Armenian paper that I found in a Parisian shop. Its smell made me recall some elements of the environment I lived in. What is strange, is that the first thing that came into my mind was a color. However, what was roaming around my nose were just invisible chemical particles. Strikingly, I was able to see in my mind what I couldn’t see. Was it a synesthesia for scents? Maybe what I exhaled from my nose was a reflection of my own set of values, of my own environmental background. If I had to ask someone else what color they perceived, they might just say that they’ve seen nothing or that they’ve seen another color.
At this moment, I just realized how impactful can the odors be on human beings. Maybe the rising of the importance of scents in society, started when people became more judgmental, and more caring about hygiene. And perhaps, the invention of the Armenian paper took place when this awareness slowly rose. I still wonder. People started wearing perfume the same way they were wearing jewelry. Until now, they would behave with perfumes and odors like they would behave with colors. Some might prefer perfume flavors to others, some might judge other people regarding the perfume they’re wearing. Today, we even tend to categorize perfumes regarding the gender, the same way we distinguish pink, seen as a female color, from blue, seen as a male color.
Also, what might have grasped my attention is the sign “Purifier l’air des habitations”, that I believe responsible for making me feel the freshness of the scent. Would I even notice the freshness of the product without reading the label? This reminded me of the way cosmetic companies label their perfumes in order to generate a mood.