Is it “burnout” or something else?

Image result for snuffed candle

These kinds of dramatic statements are nothing new, to this or other hobbies, but I’ve seen a few of them lately, and since I’ve experienced a change in attitude as well, I though it would be a good time to post about it (probably for at least the second time).  Here is a recent example:

The extent to which EO No 2 impacted me was both a surprise and a major relief. If you’ll forgive a personal digression, I’ll explain why. For me, it’s been an exceedingly difficult three months in an equally difficult year and I’ve struggled extensively with both a disinterest in perfumery and in writing, in addition to some other personal issues. In fact, fragrance has provided little interest, comfort, or distraction. Reviewing even less so. I approached analyzing a fragrance with the same enthusiasm I would feel for a root canal. Neither new releases nor my personal old vintage favourites motivated me to put pen to paper…

And there is this post:

which began with:

…why do you continue to come here to Basenotes, even after it’s clear that no one (outside of those of us who continue to come here) cares about fragrances, outside of us?

…Do you also agree that the reason for the slowdown in the traffic on this website, and in this hobby in general, is due to IFRA regulations, and poor reformulations by “respected” houses?

A bunch of posts followed that brought up various issues about hobby “fatigue” of one kind or another.  But perhaps it’s just about change that were likely to occur, short of some sort of cataclysmic event.  And how many would be unhappy with the hobby if you got free samples of any scent that is available and then the most you would have to pay is $15 total for a 50 ml bottle?  I’m at the point where I would rather layer existing fragrances to get a novel effect than pay even $50 for anything new, but I don’t feel like I’m missing out on something special, or “deprived” in any way.  In fact, because I only buy or swap if it’s a “no brainer” I feel a lot less “burdened” by the hobby.  Regrets are unlikely and if there are any, they will be too minor to ponder for long.

What I see happening on ebay is that a few fragrances (such as Caesar’s Man, which is discussed in a recent FromPyrgos blog post) go into the “hype zone,” at least temporarily, which others sell for a lot less.  For example, I’ve seen a whole lot of Jo Malone, Etat Libre d’Orange, and Penhaligons bottles selling for great prices recently.  Perhaps a store closed and some stock was liquidated (for example, a couple years ago I bought three different partial Floris 100 ml bottles, as a lot, probably about 180 ml or more in total, for less than $30 total), but at least a few times per week a great deal seems to “pop up” (and I certainly don’t buy most of them; I’d guess  no more than 10%).  It’s the kind of fragrance I wish I would have encountered when I began to appreciate “oud scents,” but now I just think of it mostly as “swap bait,” because I have so many of these kinds of fragrances and actually like some “super cheapos” better (such as Classic Match’s version of Polo Supreme Oud).

And I purchased a lot of a few vintage scents, one of which was Canyon Cologne by Bath & Body Works.  It reminds me of somewhere between vintage Polo and L’Occitane’s Eau des 4 Voleurs, so that’s a “new discovery” that involved very little cost and I really like it.  With designer exclusives and niche, though, the prices are too high and so it raises my expectations too high.  Moreover, even if I like the fragrance, I usually think that it’s not “necessary.”  That is, I have something similar, can layer to create something similar, or I’m rarely going to wear it.  This is one reason why I don’t do much swapping any longer.  Perhaps it would be best for those who feel some sort of “burnout” to look inward rather than outward (especially if you own more than a few vintage bottles).  Do you really think some sort of incredible and unique composition is going to be released, with ingredients of the “quality” you think it at least good, so that you feel compelled to buy a bottle, more or less regardless of cost?  To me the answer it, I don’t even want to think about this stuff any more!

The author of the kafkaesque blog tells us that:

The Pure Parfum is, as you might expect, a lot more expensive. It is $795 for a 50 ml bottle as opposed to $395 for the EDP…

Having said that, I won’t lie to you: I could never afford to buy a bottle of the parfum… But would I buy a bottle for myself if I hadn’t been sent one by the company and if I had disposable income for scent indulgences? Yes, absolutely.

It’s easy to say this when you get free bottles sent to you, I’d guess.  The reason is that in my experience, after the first two or three wearings, the “magic” seems to diminish, sometimes considerably.  Then you ask yourself, “what was I thinking?”  But when you get the bottle for free, you can just put it aside and think that you just “need a break” and the magic will be back soon.  And indeed it sometimes does come back, but if it’s a very expensive scent, you might be thinking that a 5 ml decant could last you the rest of your life!  Could that be where so many mostly full niche bottles we see on ebay originate?  In the case of a seller who has listed a lot of different bottles, I wouldn’t be surprised (if they are listing a lot of Penhaligons bottles, for example, I’d guess it was a store closing or a store no longer offering a specific line).  But whatever the case, why not be happy that you explored modern perfumery and now you can “rest on your laurels” (in a good way), perhaps pursuing other things?




Filed under Criticizing the critics.

2 responses to “Is it “burnout” or something else?

  1. I am a little disappointed in this post and in how you have characterized me. Normally, I do not reply to people or criticism, but I have always thought you a nice chap so I shall attempt to clarify a few things.

    I think you’ve been disingenuous in chopping up my initial remarks to omit the reasons why I have stopped posting for a while, as well as why I wouldn’t have bought a full bottle of scent, at least not at the current moment and right this moment given my vet bills.

    First, I clearly explained that there were many reasons why I took a break from posting, from blogging negatives to elements which seemed of greater importance and urgency than mere perfumery. One, but only ONE, of those reasons involved the declining health of my dog who is akin to a child to me. He’s my baby, my heart and my soul. And he was in such a bad state that I thought he could die if I couldn’t help him. Months of specialists and then an operation which might have killed him, as well as post surgical aftermath that left him almost comatose… I think those things would take up anyone’s time and attention, trumping something as inconsequential as fragrance blogging or reviewing.

    Second, I made it very clear that the reason why I would not purchase a bottle was due **to my vet bills at the moment.** You conveniently omitted that explanation.

    For your information, the final total for the operation and surgery last month was more than $8,000. That is just one bill. If you include the amounts I’ve spent previously, on bills going back to last year, for specialists, medication, and the like, the final tally far, far exceeds $8,000. Had I not had such bills, I would easily have the disposable income to purchase a full bottle of EO No 2. And I would have done so willingly.

    Third and equally importantly, I have given rave, positive reviews for fragrances where I was sent a small sample, not a full bottle. but also for fragrances whose samples or bottles I purchased myself. For the record, I would have written the same review for EO No. 2 if I had been sent a mere sample or if I had purchased a sample for myself.

    Fourth, I have given negative reviews for fragrances where the company has sent me a full bottle as well. Quite a few of them. In fact, it is one reason why both Laurent Mazzone and Amouage struck me off their blogger list. My response was to purchase samples of their subsequent fragrances and to continue writing negative reviews when they were merited.

    Fifth, my last really rave, positive review was about 6 months or so and it was for vintage Giorgio for Men, a fragrance that cost me under $30 for an almost full 4 oz or 120 ml. I bought two bottles on my own, raved about the scent, and then spent time on dating and bottle analysis to explain how others could buy something similar for an equally affordable price. How does that fit with your implication that it’s easy to write rave reviews when someone sends you a full bottle of something super expensive? I think you were unfair in your selective interpretation of the overall facts.

    Finally, I have come close to writing a number of good reviews in the past 5 months for fragrances which I’ve purchased myself for an affordable amount or for fragrances where tiny samples were provided to me, but I did not complete those drafts due to the many factors which I briefly touched upon in my EO No 2 post. I didn’t write because my attention was distracted by personal matters, my dog’s failing health, certain political things which I have worked for, tried to campaign for, or volunteered for, as well as other factors like outside work. You know, life happens. And sometimes life is more important than reviewing a fragrance, no matter what its cost or affordability, or where it came from.

    I may still finish the drafts that I’ve started for an attar from Elixir Attar, a complicated multi-part series on a vintage fragrance, or reviews for some samples I’ve purchased. Or I may not, depending on other things. To name just one, being a 24/7 nursemaid for my German Shepherd right now until he’s better enough to start his 3 to 4 month recovery process. To name another, if I get the motivation to write a complicated three-part treatise on a 1930s fragrance which will require at least 3,000 words solely to do the dating and identification methods for the various bottles and packaging changes over six decades. Sometimes, the technical aspects of providing a thorough essay with a slew of facts and specifics are enough to put a damper on one’s enthusiasm and love for a fragrance, especially when there are numerous other events and issues going on at exactly the same time.

    Over the years, I’ve seen lots of criticism of me or my posts and I have said nothing because everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if that opinion is occasionally based on an inaccurate interpretation of the facts. In your case, I’ve made a rare exception to respond, explain, and clarify because I had always thought you were a decent fellow and, normally, quite fair. At least in the past.

    I don’t care if my clarification of things changes your views or not, but I would appreciate it if, in the future, you don’t chop up my words to omit material facts which present a very different side of the story than the one you’re trying to insinuate or imply.

    I will let you have the last word but I will neither read any reply you make nor respond further. This is your site. You can obviously do and say whatever you wish. I simply wanted to present my side of the story.

    Have a good afternoon, be well, and keep smelling good.

    • Readers can decide for themselves; I’m kind of “burned out” with the “debates” about mischaraterization, etc., so I’m not going to address all these notions, but I did say, “I’d guess,” not that I know, and my idea was that many people might do this on a non-conscious level. Moreover, I provided a link to your post, again, so that readers could decide if my impression was reasonable. My notions about why some people might get discouraged are ones I still think are likely, even if these don’t apply in your particular case (there is plenty of this kind of commentary just in the BN thread I cited, for example). Best of luck with your pets, etc.

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