They say that one of the first sign of brain cancer is detecting scents that aren’t there. For example, at the moment I can smell the lolly jar from my grandmother’s house. She’s been dead for about five years and the lolly jar is probably festering away beneath the landfill that used to be the Devonport Tip. I don’t even think they make the brand of toffees my Granny used to stock. Yet, despite the fact that I am seated at a computer in Auckland’s largest library I can smell the lolly jar.

It’s a very comforting feeling.

Scent play a large role in my psyche. Like some other humans I can small pheromones. I know the exact scent that attracts me to people (which seems to be given off my certain damaged pyschological individuals) and the scent that is fear and/or uncertainty makes people ripe targets for my own special brand of psychological domination.

Smells, in general, however, are important in re my memory. I’m not sure why I think this but I trust my memory of smells and sounds much more than my visual memory. I have certain memories I know are false such as a conversation with a friend whilst walking down a particular garden path (which didn’t exist by the time I met the friend in question). Smells, however, and to a lesser extent, sounds (not coversations, mind), seem much more durable as memories, less open to corruption. My sense of taste seems similar; I can remember quite vividly the first taste I ever had of a fresh tomato. I hated it. Even now I can recall the taste and, whilst I was in the UK, I tested that memory. Perfect fidelity (giving or taking the slight variations you would expect).

So, when that smell of the lolly jar, or the peculiar scent that you get off the recently deceased, appears without warning I feel oddly comforted because these things signify memories, and even if they are memories I would rather not experience at least the sensation has simultude.


About Matthew Dentith

Author of "The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories" (Palgrave Macmillan), Matthew Dentith wrote his PhD on epistemic issues surrounding belief in conspiracy theories. He is a frequent media commentator on the weird and the wonderful, both locally and internationally. On occasion he can be caught dreaming about wax lions but, mostly, it is rumoured he works for elements of the New World Order.