Zine: Smelling is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Smells

My first risograph zine! “smelling is forgetting the name of the thing one smells” / “there are smells I never had a name for”

This idea is something I keep returning to, and one I’ll keep expanding on in other projects. The title is a play on Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, Lawrence Weschler’s book about California Light and Space artist Robert Irwin. For me, it expresses the question of the role of language in our experience of smell. Does language expand our experience or does it limit it? In some ways, reading a scent description flattens or constricts our perceptions. It stops us short. But in other ways it does the opposite, pushing us further and offering new ways to understand what we encounter.

This is further complicated by the fact that we notoriously do not have language for so much of what we smell. As Diane Ackerman wrote: “It may be, too, that smells move us so profoundly, in part, because we cannot utter their names. In a world sayable and lush, where marvels offer themselves up readily for verbal dissection, smells are often right on the tip of our tongues—but no closer—and it gives them a kind of magical distance, a mystery, a power without a name, a sacredness.”

More to come on this topic. In the meantime, if anyone would like a copy of this zine, I have some extras! Use the contact form to send me your mailing address.

Printed by Paper Press Punch as part of their Zine of the Month Club.

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