The Man Who Had No Smell



I’m not talking about anosmia, or people who don’t get pleasure from their nose, I’m talking about a man who wore no scent, smelt of nothing and wasn’t influenced one bit by his beak. It was an odd conundrum for me mind, because he also said he just wasn’t interested in it. The thing is, two New York researchers, Daniel Wesson and Donald Wilson, were confronted with this fact when they began investigating an “enigmatic” area of the brain known as the olfactory tubercle.

Originally, they only intended to measure how olfactory tubercle cells in mice responded to smell. But during testing, Wesson noticed that every time he plonked his coffee mug down next to the experiment, the mouse cells jumped in activity. In fact, the olfactory tubercle is physiologically well-placed to receive both smell and sound information from the outside world.

Of course, mice are not people. But if research found that listening to different sounds can alter your perceptions, well then how can we be so one dimensional when understanding our senses. Clichés are the fastest way to express something because I can’t really think of anything else that carries the same emotional charge. Except cliché and Alain de Botton who said that they do nothing more than “inspire us to believe that they adequately describe a situation while they’re merely grazing its surface.’

Talking about surfaces and experimental camouflage, the man with no smell reminds me of this Jenny Holzer quote. ‘When you’ve been somewhere for a while, you acquire the ability to be practically invisible. This lets you operate with a minimum of interference.’

I much prefer to dazzle and razzle with life and all that jazz, because I’m intrigued to know let’s say, why, wherever I may go in the world, mosquitoes always know where to bite me in the same three places. And exactly the three same places.

I’ll leave the last words to that prolific man, John Wayne.

‘Mister – you’d better find another line of work  – this one sure doesn’t fit your pistol.’

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