The other week I mentioned confidently that my book was ticking along. I shouldn’t say things like that—I hit icebergs. So for today’s Thursday short, sweet note, I wanted to share links to a few things I enjoyed reading this week that felt especially helpful to the iceberg-bedraggled.
• A Longreads by Jerome Charyn about Emily Dickinson: “‘One exaggerates, but it sometimes seems as if in her work a cat came at us speaking English.'”
• An interview with the amazing RuPaul by E. Alex Jung, about drag and shapeshifting (and Buddhism).
There’s a through-line in the Dickinson and RuPaul pieces, and it is something like, riddling shapeshifters dedicate themselves to making strange, beautiful, self-amusing things recognizing that life is both fleeting and ecstatically eternal.
My mom told me that after reading Tuesday’s letter about perfumes, she went online to look for the fragrance Jicky: “In the Fannie Flagg novel she always puts on Jicky before she leaves home.” Alas, Jicky, it turns out, costs $350 a pop. So here, in honor of my mom, an excerpt from Perfumes: The A-Z Guide’s entry on Jicky. Short version: Five stars, full page of warm praise from Luca Turin, inescapable feeling that in a right world, we’d all be putting on some Jicky today before heading out.
Is the modern Jicky identical to the first one [developed in 1889]? Of course not. Is it an honest attempt to continue it? Yes. I cannot comment on pre-WWII Jicky, having smelled it only once, and then fleetingly. I can vouch for the fact that the Jicky of my childhood was raunchier, more curvaceous, less stately. What happened? Hard to say: it can’t be the lavender or the vanilla, it can’t be the citrus, the herbs, or the civet. As Holmes said, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” My guess is that what made the old Jicky smile were the irreplaceable nitro musks, most of which disappeared from European perfumery years ago because of alleged neurotoxic and photochemical problems. The modern Jicky is perhaps a touch smoother and cleaner than it really should be, but still a towering masterpiece. And one more thing: lest anyone think that unisex perfumes are a modern invention, this one was worn by both women and men ten years before an electric car, the Jamais Contente, broke the world speed record and hit 100 km per hour.
Until next Tuesday,
wishing you happy remembrances of all the raunchy perfumes of your youth,
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