Hello my darlings, I’m so sorry I’ve had another unintentional summer hiatus from the blog. I’ve been writing my dissertation which is like slowly slashing my heart with a thousand papercuts. But the end is in sight, and I finally have a few minutes to catch up. Keep your eyes peeled for a new article coming soon but without any further ado here are this quarters ephemera of beautiful and weird things that I think everyone should know about and love.
Grimm & Co
If you are in the UK and want to have a magical afternoon, I strongly suggest a visit to Grimm & Co Apothecary in Rotherham. Grimm & Co is magical, pure and simple. What started as a project to improve low literacy levels in working class Rotherham, grew into a permanent writing centre that helps foster creativity in local children. Grimm & Co offers classes and workshops to children to help them find the magic in their lives. The creative force behind Grimm, Deborah Bullivant, speaks to kids at their level and is an expert in sparking children’s wonder. We could all use a little more wonder in our lives these days.
The project supports itself through its Apothecary, which is one of the most charming selling floors I’ve ever seen and I worked at Disney as a teenager. It’s like you walked into a grocery store in Harry Potter. Everything from toilet paper, to feather dusters, and bath salts are on sale; each with a story and a charm all their own. Even the logoed apron looks fabulous. Anything from the Apothecary makes a special gift. Not to mention it’s helping a great cause and is an enchanting way to spend an afternoon. It might even inspire you to write a story.
Night in the Woods
I know what you are thinking, “Nuri, you are recommending a side scroll game, yawn”, I know but hear me out. Night in the Woods is like H.P Lovecraft, and Edward Scary had a mashup set in the rust belt. Yes, there are adorable anthropomorphic animals, but they are struggling with unemployment, a downturned economy, and mental health issues. Our scrappy band is led by Mae a young non-conformists cat trying to make her way in the world after abruptly leaving college and returning home to live with her parents.
This game is so dope guys! Though it’s a platform game, it operates more like an interactive story. The art is beautiful, the soundtrack is haunting, there are dark supernatural moments which leave you guessing if what you saw was real or just a product of Mae’s imagination. Yet, there are also silly side games and funny dialogue. It’s also not possible to uncover everything in one playthrough, so it has a high replayability. There is a charming moroseness to this game who’s ultimate message is to hold on to yourself and your friends in hard times.
The Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide, and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV
I don’t even know how to start. For those unfamiliar with L’affaire des poisons, this was a historical event involving King Louis XIV of France (aka The Sun King), but also fortune tellers, royal mistresses, alchemists, political intrigue, black masses, assassination plots, torture, evil priests, accusations of witchcraft, possible child sacrifice, and burning decapitated bodies at the stake just to make sure they were extra dead.
This is a fascinating story that, quite frankly, I’m surprised hasn’t been made into a movie or a miniseries. Somerset does a fantastic job providing context and picking through sensational tabloids to get to deeper issues of the role of women, the claustrophobia of Versailles, and the interconnection between the wealthy and poor in 17th century France. I highly recommend this book for those that hate the idea of some light summer read and think death, history, and sex are pretty cool. Speaking of which…
The Terror of History: Mystics, Heretics, and Witches in the Western Tradition
I’m a dedicated audiobook listener. There is literally nothing I love more in the world than to be listening to a story while doing something with my hands. One of my favourite audio reads has been The Terror of History: Mystics, Heretics, and Witches in the Western Tradition by Teofilo Ruiz. This is a great short audio course discussing the cyclical pattern of scapegoating and witch hunting that Western society finds itself in due to a heady mix of nationalism, religious fervour, apocalyptic thinking, superstition, and ultimately the terror of death. I know it sounds super fun right! It actually is very insightful and really well explained. Western culture is always presented as so calm and rational, and Ruiz is saying that you can only actually hold that opinion if you eliminate all the Western history that is superstitious and irrational. Which people do, excluding it because things like the witch trials and the expulsion of the Jews were exceptions. Ruiz points out these elements are too numerous in Western culture to be aberrations and are the rules, not the exceptions. I loved it, it really made me think about how we structure the idea of history.
I listened to this on Audible because I already have an account. I don’t suggest getting the course directly from the publisher Great Courses because those fools are charging $130, which is bananas. You can also get it on AbeBooks and Amazon for about $20 without a subscription.
Ylang-Ylang Nosy Be
So we can’t have an Ephemera post without talking about perfume. Lately, I’ve been loving Ylang-Ylang Nosy Be by Perris Monte Carlo. While it’s supposed to be a yellow floral and citrus fantasy, to me, it is a classic oriental with the elegant softness of Ylang-Ylang, Vanilla, and Labdanum on display.
As you may know from the blog, I’m in love with Madagascar. It is one of my favourite places on earth and is quintessential to the perfume trade. Nosy Be is a small island off the coast of the big island of Madagascar, and it’s a secret paradise for perfume lovers. Some of the lushest naturals are grown on Nosy Be with Ylang-Ylang and Vanilla being of particularly fine quality. The Ylang-Ylang for this fragrance was grown at the Robertet plantation on Nosy Be and really represents the best the island has to offer. I would recommend Nosy Be the perfume for someone that wants a sophisticated take on a Vanilla Floriental and recommend Nosy Be the island for any perfumistas wanting a fragrant adventure a bit further afield then Grasse.
So those are some of the things I’ve loved so far this summer. Let me know what you will be smelling and reading in the comments. Dont’ forget to subscribe below to get Death/Scent right to your email and do all the social media things to see my snarky comments on Twitter.
I will be attending and speaking at the Death & the Maiden Conference (July 21-July 24) at the University of Winchester so go registered and stop by to say hello.
This kind of goes without saying on a blog dedicated to death and smells but all recommendations are based on personal experience and were purchased. We do not accept paid recommendations.