Scents and Sound, an Unexpected Association Publication date : November 9, 2022
Annick Le Guérer is an anthropologist and philosopher who specialises in smell, odours and scents. She is the author of two great classics: Les Pouvoirs de l’odeur, 2002 and Le Parfum. Des origins à nos jours, 2005.
Bruno Fourn is in charge of the cultural and artistic heritage of the Maison des Illustres Max Jacob in Quimper. After studying literature, he befriended several great writers, who make up his large collection of books. He has been interested in sound, and more specifically the voice, since his teenage years. He studied the synaesthesia between the voice and scents with 10,000 hours of sound archives, from 1860 to the present day. This book is the result of ten years of research.
Rimbaud’s poem, Vowels, “A Black, E white”, provides an introduction to vowel-colour synaesthesia, but the voice-scent synaesthesia is less well-known. What can this forgotten alliance, which was at the heart of ancient and monotheistic religions, reveal? Men and women have always, more or less consciously, placed sound and scent on the same level, to the point of becoming one in god, or in mystical, amorous and erotic ecstasy. This book by Annick Le Guérer and Bruno Fourn opens up a vast field of exploration. This unprecedented analysis of a number of religious and literary references reveals the infinite nuances of the voice-scent association.
Is this synaesthesia the fruit of the imagination, stimulated by an exceptional olfactory sensitivity, or is it based on more secret foundations? Long neglected by science as a subjective perception, neuroscience, thanks to neuroimaging, focuses on the neural bases of synaesthesia, medicine as therapeutic and the vast world of scents. Is it not time to learn how to see, hear and smell again? In short, to exercise our sensory attention, as per the voice-scent association.