There are more ways of exploring and experiencing the world today than in any other time in history, with suborbital travel and space tourism, Galactic signals from 2011, already on, and beyond, the horizon. Author David Abram, in his book “The Spell of The Sensuous,” is accurate in writing that, “the synaesthetic flowing together of different senses into a dynamic and unified experience is within the single system of vision itself… Ordinary seeing involves the convergence of two views into a single dynamic vision.” Synethesia is that place where these separate sensory modalities join and dissolve into one another, blending. In the businesses of taste and smell, as it is in music, or painting, it eventually comes down to the appeal of the blend. In the fragrance and flavors industry, it was, and in many cases still is, a criteria where taste and smell remain separate entities, more often than not, with their divisional offices and labs in different buildings, or cities for that matter. It’s a lot like being in Syracuse University’s Crouse College and not being allowed to take classes at S.I. Newhouse School, even though my study was in the same subject.
On our Princeton campus, in Plainsboro, the sign to get to the Flavors Division directs you to Bldg. M, which I later admittedly vandalized, in broad daylight, to read Bldg. “Mmm.” Perfumery was located in the H Bldg., until 2004, when they relocated to their brand new, state-of-the-sustainable-art offices, labs, conference rooms, bathrooms, and communal areas of Bldg. N, or, as the plaque outside reads, The Prism. A name that was actually selected by Joanne, not long after moving her Marketing Dept. into the new CMS area, with its own legitimate studio workshop area and prop rooms for staging, and, the pièce de résistance, a massive open area designated as Sensorium™ - we had arrived, but we didn’t have doors. As part of the modern, transparent aesthetic, or a serious cost-savings decision, none of the glass wall partitioned offices had doors on them – except for Senior Mgmt., and the Perfumers, who insisted for fear of contamination.
According to phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “synaesthetic perception is the rule, and we are unaware of it only because scientific knowledge shifts the center of gravity of experience, so that we have unlearned how to see, hear, and generally speaking, feel in order to deduce.” Joanne and I were never going to see eye-to-eye, and not just because she was taller than me, but because she occasionally wore a bright green, marching band style outfit, and she had no idea she looked like she should be on the cover of Sgt. Pepper. It really is all about perception. As receptors and receivers, we just can’t help ourselves. It was getting to a point where Joanne was having me show her my presentations, for her approval, before I could take them to a customer. The feeling in my gut before walking into her office, which had a door and its own conference table, was like getting up to do a fourth grade book report. The last critique she gave me was that my presentation didn’t have any charts or graphs in it. She wanted to see at least something quantitative. Something tangible or just visible, remains to be seen. When I brought the presentation back to her, for her re-approval, I had added a pie-chart graphic, complete with percentages and segments in different colors, but it was only the Table of Contents. Each slice representing the percentage of my presentation that a specific subject would be covered in my content. It was all very official looking, and Joanne thanked me for including it and telling me the presentation was much more complete with it in there. I was relieved, and I was done.