From Aristotle to Kant, intellectuals have delighted in denigrating the sense of smell. In doing so they have dampened the boundless pleasures of the olfactory. It is time we rediscovered our noses
The fallen sons of Eve
Even the smell of roses
Is not what they supposes
But more than mind discloses
And more than men believe.
GH Chesterton, “The Song of Quoodle”
I plead guilty to Chesterton’s charge. Mine is a mediocre specimen of a post-lapsarian nose. As a fallen daughter of Eve—or, more accurately, a fallen granddaughter of a sharp-nosed chimpanzee—I am conscious of smell only a few times each day. I put on perfume in the morning, but because I use the same concoction every day and therefore suffer from what the perfumers call “nasal fatigue,” I apply far more than I should, and end up fatiguing the noses of my fellow passengers on the train en route to work. Occasionally I sniff the milk to see if it’s off, but more often I just glance at the sell-by date. Visual clues are more reliable than olfactory ones for