Category Archives: Reviews

Royal, Historical Perfumes

(French article here)

In a previous article about Lost Perfumes, I’ve mentioned the Osmothèque, a big scent archive in Versailles, near Paris. The Osmothèque keeps a lot of perfumes, some of them very precious or lost.

I could attend a conference there this week-end. Patricia de Nicolaï talked about the history of perfumes for 2h30 and it was amazing! We had the opportunity to smell some recreated historical perfumes, and the experience was as moving as visiting a museum. Indeed, as little as perfumes are studied or known, they are an important aspect of our human heritage.

Here are some of the historical, moving, “royal” – Versailles oblige! – perfumes I could discover thanks to the Osmothèque:

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Parfums Royaux Historiques

fr-airship(English article here)

Dans un article précédent sur les parfums disparus, je parlais notamment de l’Osmothèque, un conservatoire de la parfumerie situé à Versailles, dépositaire de nombreux parfums rares ou disparus.

J’ai eu la chance d’assister à une conférence sur l’histoire de la parfumerie ce week-end, donnée par Patricia de Nicolaï.  L’exposé était brillant, les 2h30 sont passées extrêmement vite et nous avons aussi eu la chance de pouvoir sentir quelques exemples de parfums historiques reconstitués. L’expérience était aussi émouvante que de visiter un musée, car il s’agit bien là d’un patrimoine humain, bien que moins bien connu que d’autres.

Voici certains des parfums, historiques, émouvants, et “royaux” – Versailles oblige ! – que j’ai pu découvrir à l’Osmothèque :

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The Many Lives of “The Woman in White”

ENThe Woman in White is a Victorian “Sensation Novel” written in 1859-1860 by Wilkie Collins. I discovered it more than 10 years ago, and since then it is one of my favorite novels. Why is it so appealing? What inspired it?
Wilkie Collins

Most facts here come from John Sutherland’s notes and introduction to The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, Oxford World’s Classics.

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Mantis Shrimps and Mudsplashes – The Feel of Seeing

ENA year ago, I had the privilege to attend a lecture by J. Kevin O’Regan, ex-director of the Laboratoire de Psychologie de la Perception at the Université René Descartes, Paris 5. In his book, Why Red doesn’t sound like a bell, J. Kevin O’Regan writes about consciousness and feel in a new way. The first part is about the feel of seeing.

Why do we think we see “everything” in front of us whereas our eyes are not that good? Is it because the brain provides us with a fully corrected representation? No, J. Kevin O’Regan says.

(Please note most references to and quotes from J. Kevin O’Regan are from Why Red doesn’t sound like a bell, 2011, Oxford University Press. Please also note some additions are on my own initiative, like the silly pictures, the Mantis Shrimp, the airships or TeamLab’s concept. All mistakes are my own.)

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Zen / Un-Zen

ENKyoto is bursting with gardens, some of them being Zen rock gardens. I was quite thrilled to go to Ryoan-ji (picture on the right), but unfortunately the meditation mood was dampened by giggling schoolchildren taking selfies in front of the garden and noisy tourists berating themselves: “Don’t look at your feet, look at the rocks!”

However, 40 minutes away from Ryoan-ji, the Daisen-In (drawing on the left) is everything a rock garden should be. Quite derserted, thus much less stressful, some explanations were provided to fully enjoy the garden and temple buildings. As pictures and drawings are not allowed during the visit, I drew the Ocean of Eternity on the plane. It is also a significant place for Japanese tea ceremony development. While visiting the Daitoku-ji, to which Daisen-In belongs, I strongly recommend eating Shojin Ryori at Izusen restaurant!

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Fushimi Inari Shrine

ENJapanese Shinto shrines are often breathtakingly beautiful. I will never forget visiting Fushimi Inari Taisha, 10 minutes away from Kyoto, at dusk then under moonlight… There sure are more cats than foxes – even if Inari is the Shinto fox kami – but Kitsune and this visit inspired a Haiku (French one here):

Between red torii,
A white fox is slipping in.
Lanterns are glowing!

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Sanctuaire Fushimi Inari

fr-airshipLes sanctuaires Shinto japonais sont souvent des endroits magnifiques. Visiter Fushimi Inari Taisha, à dix minutes en train au Sud de Kyoto, à la tombée du jour, est une expérience inoubliable. Il y a certes plus de chats que de renards – même si Inari est le kami renard Shinto – mais cette visite et les Kitsune ont inspiré un Haïku (en anglais ici):

Sous les torii rouges,
Un renard blanc se faufile.
Les lanternes luisent !

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