Christopher Brosius is apparently an olfactory genius. He’s known for a line of perfumes evoking scents of childhood. (Among his perfumes are Clean Baby Butt, Green Bean and Baseball Glove.) But Brosius was ready for the ultimate challenge. He wanted to develop a perfume that no one could smell.
He tried all sorts of chemical combinations to get the non-smell just right. He says that his early efforts smelled terrible. Just the fact that you smelled them meant he was failing, didn’t it?
New York magazine had a long and respectful article about this a few months back. My first thought was that I kept having to check and see whether I was reading the Onion. My second thought was that this guy should work for the state.
Remember the kids’ story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes“? It was my favorite. It’s about an emperor who gets conned by a couple of crafty tailors who tell him they’ve created fine new clothes that can’t be seen by stupid or incompetent people. The emperor doesn’t want to admit that he can’t see the clothes — and neither do his other subjects — so he walks around without clothes. Then one boy speaks up to point out that the guy isn’t wearing clothes.
To me, that’s what this is. Nobody wants to admit how absurd it is to create a scent that has no scent. (Give me a cup of really clean water and I’ll sell it to you as odorless perfume at a good price.) But this is what governments do to us regularly. They control us. They take our money. They create various rules to help others — and they claim it’s all for our own good. They say it’s with “the consent of the governed.” When something is absurd and irrational, we need to be willing to say so — whether it’s about lies from the state or absurdist claims from perfumers who want to sell you perfume that’s designed not to be smelled.