documentation

I am most grateful for being able to document visual and aural sensations, even though documentation is extremely limited, and most often the documentation itself transforms into a whole new experience altogether, rather than just remaining a static representation of the subject. However, lately, I have been thinking a lot about smell. Yes, the olfactory sense.

The ability to smell influences so much of our perceptions and subsequent actions. I know an Aspie who was born without olfactory response. He cannot smell. This puts him in danger of all kinds of things. The lack of the sense of smell may be overlooked as a lesser ‘disability’ than the lack of vision, or audition, but there are many hidden pitfalls. My friend, and others like him, can easily ingest food that is not fresh, and hence cause digestive and poisoning problems. He will not be able to smell if there was a gas leak in his apartment and will need to install emergency protective devices for that purpose. He is also unable to fully enjoy the ‘bouquets’ that accompany food, and the reason that food is so attractive to so many people. Nor will he have the conscious pleasures of basking in good smells. The brain is incredibly multimodal, fortunately for all of us, and my friend’s food preferences, and yes, even his sense of ‘taste,’ are based on his ability to sense texture. Perhaps in some ways, the brain compensates and he is hence able to different texture so much better than others who can smell and use the olfactory sense to ‘taste’ food, rather than texture. That, too, is another way of perceiving our world.

Righto, I am somewhat digressing again… so… let’s keep it brief here, after all, this is a casual and fun blog, so I shall not waffle on and on (and I can!) about the olfactory sense. I just wonder about documenting smell. If only we could do that, then we will be able to ‘share’ the smells that affect us profoundly with others, just as we share photos (visual) and music or sound recordings (auditory).

A thought that began to take more concrete form (the thought i.e.) in my mind today, as I was walking Lucy, is this: can food be considered a kind of temporal ‘documentation’ of smells, for the purpose of limited sharing, and hence yet another, and quite cogent, agency for creating empathy and communication? 

The limitations are many of course. One has to be able to experience this ‘documentation’ in person.

Anyhow, I shall leave you with an inference. The visual sense shall again have to be a channel for extrapolation here. Imagine, then.

Something we encountered this morning after the rain. One is a ‘smell this’ photograph, and the other is the ‘look at this juxtaposition’ photograph. Wherever your ‘visual nose’ takes you!

ImageImage

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