The Investigator and the Perfumer

M. C.: I am impressed by the optimism of your opinions on the sensory capacity of the average man or woman—an optimism which is even more striking to me as a teacher than as an investigator.

E.R.; My opinion concerning the sensory capacity of the individual is not based on optimism, but rather on experience--experience which I have accumulated from the development of my own ability to perceive (and to reflect) in the course of 55 years devoted to the practice of olfaction; and also the experience of having witnessed the developing capability of a great many people during this lengthy period. My convictions are well-founded: we all sense things in pretty much the same way; what does vary, most of all, is our skill at interpreting our sensations (in other words, to perceive). This skill can be perfected through training. The ability to perceive is thus in essence a matter of being able to learn and to reflect. Obviously, there are people for whom this will be more difficult than for others. To perceive is to sense while reflecting as was keenly pointed out by Mr. Henri Piéron in his fine book on Sensation.

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