Becoming a Better Smeller

“How could I become a better smeller? I like how you shifted away from questions of connoisseurship. You didn’t want to cultivate better aesthetic taste than other people. You just wanted to take in more of the world. Fredric Jameson once said, paraphrasing Adorno, that when you’re doing aesthetics as a Marxist, you can’t get away from the fact that art is a luxury item. It shouldn’t be, but that’s the guilt of the art object for certain critics. There’s an anecdote I’ve heard about Herbert Marcuse being interviewed at his home in La Jolla, California. The interviewer says something challenging, like, “Herbert Marcuse, you’re a Marxist thinker, but I’m looking at all this luxury. We’re lounging around your swimming pool. What do you say to that?” And Marcuse supposedly replies, “Nothing is too good for the people.” That’s a great response to the guilt thing…I want to be bold enough to wear a perfume like CB Beast. Not to please to other people, but to smell like, Fuck you.”

-Jude Stewart, “How to Choose Your Perfume: A Conversation with Sianne Ngai and Anna Kornbluh.” The Paris Review. March 23, 2022

I, too, want to smell like, “Fuck you!” If that smells like roast beef, all the better. But, the hard truth is I smell like Tide, the laundry detergent. Loved this conversation.