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Turning up our noses

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

By Lara Feigel   December 2006

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…

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