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Showing posts from February, 2015

Smell Defense: A Role in National Security?

The notion first occurred to me after a party in the 90s. 

A friend and I bought food trays from a rather gourmet grocery store to take to this party. We did notice, at the time of purchase, that the crudité tray smelled a tad cruder than it should, but we reassured ourselves that the broccoli on the tray was most likely only a little less than fresh. Besides, we were running late. 

After the party, we noticed that no one partook of said broccoli whose odor had by now developed loud, non-woodsy tones. We loaded the leftovers, broccoli included (Maybe it's still edible, we thought. These were, after all, our "salad days.") into my friend's station wagon and headed home. 'Twas a dark and cold mid-winter's eve. Notwithstanding the frigid temperature, about two miles into our ride, we opened all the car windows  to relieve our nostrils from the out-gassing of the fast-aging broccoli going rotten as fast as the proverbial gingerbread man could run. 

My friend started…

Whose day?

Years ago, I made some collages using pages from a desk calendar from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The image that leads this post is one. Inside the hearts and flowers is a picture from the MMA collection of  a Japanese screen made in the 16th century. It is titled Tagasode, which means Whose sleeves?  The title comes from a 10th-century poem:


The fragrance seems even more alluring than the hue, Whose sleeves have brushed past? Or would it be this plum tree blossoming here at home?
Iro yori mo ka koso awaredo omohoyure tagasode fureshi ado no ume zo mo
The word haunts: tagasode. Whose sleeves? The question floats in my mind like a cloud on a still day. The sleeves materialize in my mind's eye. I hear them move through hushed air. I can imagine, though not name, the scent of the person to whom those sleeves belong. It's not unlike smelling the scent of your infant's clothes, or holding the perfume bottle that belonged to your mother...you don't need to open it... you know tha…

Cómo vuela el tiempo, and how to fly forward going back in time

I had great plans for blog posts for January... and now January, 2015 has flown.  Hace dos semanas ya, todas las tiendas empezaron a vender los dulces de San Valentín. Valentine's candy has been in stores for at least two weeks. 
I would, however, like to share some wisdom that could make this still young year a more meaningful one, wisdom gained from reading G.K. Chesterton, my primary literary companion during January. As I feel time--and life--flying by, these essays encourage me to stop and look back in time, and calm and enlighten me. Although I would have disagreed with Chesterton's views on women's suffrage, among other topics, it is oh so very worth one's time to go "back" to his writing; a task made easier and quite accessible by the work of three Chesterton scholars.
Editor Dale Ahlquist, Joseph Pearce, and Aidan Mackey have compiled a scintillating collection of essays by the famous essayist, entitled In Defense of Sanity. The book's cover featur…