The code of smells

There are cultures that classify animals according to their smell, and some have specific abstract names for each type of smell. However, in our culture we do not have a framework that allows us to know how to think of smells as symbolic vehicles. We’re going to propose one!

A good example to better explain the idea we want may be to understand that colors can indeed symbolize abstract concepts for us. The traffic light system is well known to all, where red, regardless of whether you like it or not, means “stop”; green means “go”, even if you like yellow better. Sounds have meaning to us too, for example, the soundtrack of a movie tells us what emotions we should feel as the plot unfolds.

But in our culture, smells are not encoded in this way (the code has probably been forgotten), depriving us of any model around which to organize our olfactory experience. Therefore, at the moment, our response to smells can only be measured in terms of relative pleasure.

Simply our level of olfactory consciousness is very low in the West and the main reason for this is that for us, smells have no meaning and only provoke reactions of pleasure or disgust.

Nidore Essentia, the smell and the two great symbols

As an exercise, we can classify odors into two large symbols that can abstractly encompass the type of reactions we have when we smell, with the aim of increasing our olfactory awareness.

It is not so much about going for an empirical and exact classification, but about identifying the reaction we have to a specific smell, expressing in words the relationship between what we feel, the images they evoke, the memories involved and the molecules that intervene in it and the process which activates our olfactory neural network.

In Nidore Essentia smells have two great symbols

  1. Fresh: they symbolize smells in movement, agile and easy to assimilate; They are from outside, from outside, but they are not surprised or combative with respect to the predominant natural smell, even if they are strong. Always welcome.
  2. Warm: they symbolize more introspective and reflective smells. They can cause restlessness inside, they may not be unpleasant, but they never leave us listless inside.

An odor is never totally fresh or totally warm. However, its meaning, its code, is always clear: it is either one or the other..


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