Sunday, May 22, 2005

not roused.

i find myself left strangely cold by the news. perhaps it was the final push before the government exam, when i had to learn all about constitutional reform, but i just can't get worked up about anything - not even poor dear kylie.

i just finished watching the rules of attraction, a film based on the brett easton ellis book. as you might expect from the author who brought you american psycho, it's pretty weird stuff - lots of drink, drugs, hallucination bits, and for your viewing pleasure, the one with the big forehead from dawson's creek whacking off. i thoroughly recommend it, although it will make you feel dead inside.

but there have also been more intellectual pursuits on offer this weekend: the fa cup final, for example. a few minutes' swotting up on which teams were playing, and i was ready to be one of the boys. there was some excellent unreconstructed masculine behaviour on offer in the pub: short, sunburnt men in tracksuit bottoms swigged beer and shouted 'taxi!' a lot. a friend remarked, "i always wonder why women fancy men". i couldn't provide an answer.

i also finished patrick suskind's perfume, and it well repaid re-reading. the book describes the life and death of jean baptiste grenouille, born on a dung heap in eighteenth century paris with an extraordinary sense of smell (but no smell of his own). grenouille isn't a protagonist in the usual sense, everything in his life seems strangely predestined and most of the characters he meets die horribly after they leave the narrative. he's described as a tick, surviving on drops of blood when he can, and gorging himself when the opportunity arises.

this book is a revelation: simply because smell is such an under-estimated sense. if you've ever read an account by someone with anosmia (that is, no sense of smell), you start to realise how much we rely on our noses to identify what's going on around us. people smell, pleasantly and unpleasantly, clothes left on the floor smell (to dirty to wear again? a sniff will tell), milk smells, food smells. if you can't smell, you can tell if there's a gas leak, if something on the hob is burning in the next room. you are disabled, but no-one can tell and treat you differently.

because of the importance of smell, it's amazing to think how much literature conveniently ignores it. lovers in poetry don't smell (they can't, they couldn't possibly have bodily fluids). after reading perfume, you can't help feeling that's an oversight.

2 Comments:

Blogger damonline said...

This olfactory fixation is getting dangerously close to coprophilia. This is a family blogosphere, you vile sex fiend.

5/23/2005 1:12 pm  
Blogger galatea said...

what? give a dog a bad name (in this case, 'pervert') and hang him, eh?

5/23/2005 2:47 pm  

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