my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?


Criticism and Creation

Addendum: A quote from Henry Fielding, author of Tom Jones:

Now, in reality, the world have paid too great a compliment to critics, and have imagined them to be men of much greater profundity than they really are.

Today's post includes the last two NellyRodi perfumes: Parfum 7: Ambre by the perfumer Dorothée Piot of SYMRISE with its ingredients of Amber, Vanilla and Musk ...and Parfum 8: Rose, also by the perfumer Dorothée Piot of SYMRISE, with ingredients of Bergamote, Coriander, Cardamome, Rose, Ylang, Mimosa, Cinnamon, Caraway, Musk, Civette, Vanilla.

I like them both. The Ambre is simply amber -- softened by the vanilla and musk. Simple, and I like it that way.

The Rose is a clean-smelling spicy floral that is cut with a sharp bit of civet (which I really hope is synthetic). It's nice. Not the most unusual rose out there, but I like it.

My point today, though, is to make a brief comment about how difficult it is to make art -- which perfume certainly qualifies as -- and that I hope my reviews never disparage the artist, even if I don't like their creation.

Whether the scent is a product of a science-tethered conglomerate, or a cottage-industry natural perfumery ... there is a human somewhere beneath it. A human who devised the concept and isolated the scents/chemical components, and combined and evaluated and reworked and sweated to make beauty.

It doesn't always work. Nothing does. But in most of these cases, a human made a valiant effort to make beauty and deserves a certain amount of respect for it.

There is always the sharp edge between criticism and creating. And it's good to remember that we will inevitably find ourselves in both roles. (Unless one makes a life of criticizing and never creating. Now THAT is true impotence.)

The critic would be wise to be kind, and measured in their evaluation. Because someday that caustic, dismissive tone could be used against their own work.

Is the criticism instructive? Is it input that could help the individual further develop their work?

Or is it just cruelly glib, gratuitous flexing by an individual in a position of "authority"? Because they can?

Final NellyRodi scores:
MANE = 0 for 2
ROBERTET = 2 for 3
SYMRISE = 2 for 3


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hits me in the heart! Thank you for your sensitivity. I have noticed a rather widely cast criticism lately (from a blog) toward certain nearly unknown perfumers and their own creations. It was painful to read.

And may I confess that I too have been ruthlessly unkind about many perfumes?...and by extension, unkind to the creator...lab geek or otherwise... yes. Especially Red Door. I know there are women who like that and they wear it. And I am sorry. It's got to smell good on somebody.... (right?)


10:08 AM

Blogger colombina said...

So I guess it's a tie between Syprise and Robertet :-)

Based on your reviews, I really want to try Bois, Ambre and Rhum...

11:51 AM

Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

Or is it just cruelly glib, gratuitous flexing by an individual in a position of "authority"? Because they can? I love this paragraph.

4:13 PM

Blogger katiedid said...

Aren't you a sly one, you, heh. I think however in certain peoples' cases, they should be careful not to goad and ask for an opinion, because they're going to have to be willing to hear it then. That said, a dedicated degree of civility and decency would indeed be nice to see on ALL sides of issues, especially one in particular.

I say this not as a fence-sitter, but as a bleacher-sitter watching as a spectator.

6:49 PM

Anonymous janey said...

Ditto on tan lucy prez' comment.

Kindness breeds kindness but so to does flexing (hey I created a new noun or is it a verb?). I think we've all experienced and done both. But it's the knowing of it and trying to do better that just builds up that good karma.

And you do have a way with words and the most thoughtful posts.

7:42 PM

Blogger AP3 said...

Good thoughts on criticism. You're right... I think we all owe creative people a real debt of gratitude.

7:44 PM

Blogger actonbell said...

Agreed, Ap3. It really is a fine line to walk for critics who would not wish the creator to stop creating.

3:26 AM

Blogger Kate said...

I feel so out of the loop!

But anyway, this reminds me of teaching. As a college student, I would often criticise a teacher very harshly to my peers. Now that I'm teaching a college class, I understand how hard it is to get up in front of 20 nineteen-year-old know it alls and try to teach them something! LOL. My chickens have come home to roost. :-)

7:05 AM

Blogger still life said...

Right on point M, as usual.

Criticism of someone's vision should probably be left in the head, unless you are a mentor of some sort and have intentions.

But on another note (no pun meant there). This fragrance sounds wonderful, right up my alley with all of those dark warm notes.

11:22 AM

Blogger Lulu said...

I do have to agree with Katie that, if you submit your creations for evaluation willingly to someone, you do have to risk taking what you get, especially if they have a reputation for being blunt (like Simon Cowell in Pop/American Idol).

I am a bad criticiser myself and, as people's boss, have found it almost impossible to tell them clearly where they ranked in the order of (editing) skills, especially when all my help had not improved them enough. It made me a bad boss, because they were not then equipped for the harsher judgements of others (e.g. simply failing to get a new job), and now I'm not a boss and that is much better.

It's a fairytale that people can improve in any area they choose to a standard of excellence as long as other people help/train/advise you enough. Some people are just better at a certain skill than others and always will be. The best thing I ever did for a bad but incredibly hardworking editor was encourage her to take a job in a literary agency instead, and use her people skills and charm and dedication instead of struggling on with her bad proofreading and page layout. I regret it terribly, it's not fair, it really isn't, but I have finally come to believe that it's just no good rewarding effort without achievement. In the end, it is achievement that will get you the glittering prizes, and it's hard to find that out later in life rather than earlier. What is the use, for example, of a theatre critic who likes everything? Not only do the reading public then discount her or his views, but for the artistes the judgement becomes that little bit less valuable too. OK, they feel good for a minute when they read the praise, and they are not hurt, but the joy will be more fleeting, more hollow than getting praise from someone who is notoriously difficult to please.

But but but - where the subject matter under consideration is subjective, and/or an artistic endeavour, it would always be polite and the opposite of arrogant, whatever that is, to at least acknowledge that one's own opinion, no matter how expert, is not final and that there is plenty of room for disagreement.

And if some other people do like your creation - even if only a limited number of other people do - then you have added something valuable to the world and that is an achievement.

And criticism from someone who does not create is certainly arguably less worthwhile than criticism from another (so it's more OK when Gordon Ramsey is rude to bad chefs?). I'm not sure I am personally very drawn to the nature of someone who makes a living entirely from criticising the work of others.

7:58 AM


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