The Hill

I don’t know where else I’ll find a rustling wind 

Moving and reminding me of life.

Everywhere seems so still

But here the earth still shakes 

Shimmies and dances,

So of course soon it will be killed. 

Like everywhere else of natural value

Humans are like death machines

Sucking away the rustling wind.

My own despair on seeing behind the veil of reality

Of how we are here, but arbitrarily

And the universe traverses on

Its timelines untroubled by our small concerns

And by this I mean the birth and the death of humans

So with our brief and imperfect senses

How I feel we should live here but lightly

Is not shared. So they continue to seal the tomb 

Of the earth.

The small and temporary bliss I feel when I stand here on this hill

Is like the small and temporary bliss of living at all

And it will inevitably end

what I want to do

I don’t want to flatter people, I want to excite them. I want to challenge them a little, or a lot if they can take it. Perhaps i’ll practice the art of challenging people just as much as they can take, so that they dig deeper each time. I think being flattered is a theme of our times, and that it is poisonous to people’s ability to think for themselves, think more holistically or think of themselves as part of communities.

painting and perfuming

I find lots of similarities between composing a perfume and painting. Creating accords is analogous with mixing  raw colours to make the perfect colour to convey what you are imagining or what from life you want to recreate. Paints, like perfume materials have different textures, opacities, weights.. Putting them together in a painting is about balancing instinct and control, with each colour/texture suggesting or demanding what needs to be done around it, what needs to happen next…And its all about your responses and memories and dreams... Yes, I would go so far as to say that perfume is the main medium I am working in at the moment.

Here in Scotland there is an embryonic interest in perfuming by independents, or smaller brands. There are a couple of people making perfume here I believe, and some critics and bloggers, but its yet to really take off. This interests me too, the combination of being a country in political flux and struggling to express itself culturally and the potential for something like perfumery. I’m fascinated by the idea of expressing the nature around me that I love, the feelings it evokes, and landscapes, and also the emotive and philosophical responses to that land and natural world. 

Quote: Giacomo Leopardi

“We say that someone of serious intelligence and determination is bound to achieve great things in the world, that surely he won’t remain obscure, whatever his circumstances. But the habit of prudence in matters requiring careful thought inevitably precludes quick, deft resolution; prudence retards progress and delays execution. Because of this, men of great, hard-working genius are often, almost always really, prisoners of their own irresoluteness - they are indecisive, shy, tentative, uncertain, fragile, inept at following through. Quite unlike those who rule the world, where decisiveness, not prudence, gets more done more quickly - that’s why the world is always left at the mercy of mediocrities.”

from Zibaldone di penssieri

Vero Kern

I have been wearing Onda Voile de Parfum for two days after hearing the sad news that Vero Kern has died at the age of 78. I love Onda, a deep, dark and mysterious vetiver, spicy, woody and honeyed perfume. I also have it in eau de parfum which has a wonderful passionfruit top note which makes it exciting and a bit loud. I’ve worn the latter during open studios or other times when I want to say I’m here and I’m just as you find me, no compromise! I find Vero Kern very inspiring, an lady full of life and vigour and sexiness. I’m inspired by her story that she only started as a perfumer in her 60s. I believe she was also a friend of Andy Tauer, another independent perfumer I admire, and there is a wonderful short film of the two of them on one of their regular walks in the local park together, smelling lilac blossoms. With Vero Kern’s passing I renew my intention to explore the vivid and so-alive world of smells, and materials, and perfumes, and I renew my intention to just start being damned uncompromising. A fire in my belly for social issues, planetary action, love for nature, and for independents, people making things they love and pour passion into, making where they live and work places full of life and sensory joy. I go into 2019 taking no prisoners. Thank you Vero!

Vero Kern (image taken from Grain de Musc)

Vero Kern (image taken from Grain de Musc)

Poem: ee Cummings

into the strenuous briefness


handorgans and April


i charge laughing.

Into the hair-thin tints

of yellow dawn,

into the women-coloured twilight

i smilingly

glide. I

into the vermilion departure


(Do you think?)the

I do,world

is probably made

of roses & hello:

(of solongs and,ashes)

Quote: Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

“A time has come for new ways of telling true stories beyond civilisational first principles. Without ‘Man’ and ‘Nature’, all creatures can come back to life, and men and women can express themselves without the strictures of a parochially imagined rationality, No longer relegated to the whispers in the night, such stories might be simultaneously true and fabulous. How else can we account for the fact that anything is alive in the mess we have made?

Following a mushroom, this book offers such true stories. Unlike most scholarly books, what follows is a riot of short chapters. I wanted them to be like the flushes of mushrooms that come up after a rain: an over-the-top bounty; a temptation to explore; an always too many. The gesture to the so-much-more out there. They tangle with and interrupt each other-mimicking the patchiness of the world I am trying to describe.”

from ‘The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the possibility of life in capitalist ruins.’

Quote: Giacomo Leopardi

“The reason we don’t feel the worst possible physical pain is because it either knocks us senseless or kills us. We don’t feel the worst sorrow while its at its worst; it stuns us, confuses or overwhelms us, makes us unrecognisable and unknowable to ourselves, estranges us from our feelings and the object of our feeling; we’re immobilised, our inner (and, so to speak, outer) life ceases to stir. Thus we don’t feel the worst sorrows, don’t feel them in their entirety, when they first befall, we know them, one by one, as we advance through time and space. And not just peak pain, but every peak passion, every sensation that, even if it’s not the greatest, is yet so extraordinary and (in whatever way), great, that our spirit can’t contain it all at once. Supreme joy would be just the same.”

March 4, 1821

from ‘Zibaldone di pensieri’, translated by W. S. Di Piero

I know this intimately. This is trauma - the body and mind immobilised in order to protect the subject’s ability to continue, to persist, during the now, and survive into the future. If you were able to experience all as it is right now you would go insane. You would be so close to the truth of existence that you could never go back again to any sense of ‘normality’. Afterwards you feel the urgency of this message from the universe, but you also feel somehow you have mislaid it. This is both beautiful and tragic.

Poem: Charles Baudelaire

There are perfumes as cool as the flesh of children,

Sweet as oboes, green as meadows

- And others are corrupt, and rich, triumphant,

With power to expand into infinity,

Like amber and incense, musk, benzoin,

That sing the ecstasy of the soul and senses.

from blog post by Bois de Jasmin on the Perfumative Zurich

Quote: John Lilly

“The miracle is that the universe created a part of itself to study the rest of it, that this part, in studying itself, finds the rest of the universe in its own natural inner realities.”

from Centre of the Cyclone: Looking into Inner Space