Intermission: Sad Sniffer Seeks Solace: Thoughts on Anima Dulcis by Arquiste
Salvador Dali for Women (1985)
For the past few weeks I have experienced anosmia due to a bad cold. You realize how much you miss something when its gone. Anosmia wore me down almost as much as the fatigue and aches of my overall malaise. Undina’s recent blog post asks the question “Does smell affect your mood or is it simply an ornamentation?” I fall solidly into the first group, relying on scents, both subtle and outstanding to add a dimension to my daily experience which goes deeper than aesthetics. It’s like the soundtrack of a movie that teases you along, evokes emotion, invites you to harmonize in the dance of events, only this soundtrack is a scenttrack that plays out in the ongoing fluctuations of aroma. Come to think of it, I can much more easily tune out a noise than a smell, which may be true for most of us.
Coming to my rescue this week was a humble little decant of Anima Dulcis perfume by the house of Arquiste. One of my basenotes buddies adores this fragrance and so I suspected it would appeal to me, but little did I know what an impression this unique gourmand would make. Granted, my first sniff was compromised, I’m not fully recovered, but if it’s this good now, I’m sure it’s a keeper.
Anima Dulcis is a concoction of dark cocoa and hot red chile infusion in a nest of vanilla and amber. I generally don’t prefer to wear fragrances that lean towards edible – I’d rather eat them – but there is something else here, a light cumin note of salty sweat that saves this from being simply a gourmand creation. It’s alive. It has a kind of creature spirit. (did I spend too long at the Pueblo?) The chocolate note here is bitter, dark and powdery, without its own sweetness. Any sweetness is offered up from the creamy vanilla and amber.
The hot chile note is the first to turn my head, with the cumin following more gently than I have ever experienced cumin…like a whisper or a glimpse. And for me, this is what describes the image of sweet animal to me – a wild thing, but gentle, poking its nose, saying, I’m here! After some time the animal moves on and the sweet base emerges, brushed with the cocoa, ending in a mix of cream and powder.
On an interesting interior note, the word Anima is associated with the inner feminine personality in Jungian psychology. Dulcis means sweet in taste or smell. Put this together with the inspiration behind the making of this fragrance, a story involving medieval nuns concocting chocolate recipes in the Royal Convent of Jesus Maria in Mexico City, and you have a plethora of food for the imagination. (Garceus, my friend, are you listening?)
Images: The first photo is of an unrelated fragrance, Salvador Dali’s Woman, which I chose for the nose image, Detail from Mes Femmes, oil on panel, somewhere in central park, our not very wild pet rabbit, Hot Fudge Gee Willikers.