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Why sandalwood?

Thoughts and input on anything related to wet shaving or men's grooming.

Why sandalwood?

Postby brothers » Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:31 am

I'm going to admit that in spite of my age, I have never ever heard or read about a "sandlewood tree". I've just always presumed it was made up some decades ago only as a scent or fragrance, not to be confused with "Tuscan or Tuscany" which is currrently all the rage for selling everything from clothing to food to homes to battleships, for all I know, and happens to be a real place.

Anyway, if I'm correct that sandalwood is a marketing name kind of like "Corolla", then maybe some genius who's now a multi-trillionaire decided that if you could take the word "sandal" and marry it to the word "wood", that you could make most males instantly see visions of ourselves in the company of females in the summertime, or on the beach, where both sandals and (drift)wood are presumably plentiful. Thus, evoking a mini-soap opera to go shooting through our testosterone-drenched brains, and causing us to temporarily lose control of our better judgment, purchasing the object to which that name might be attached, with wild abandon. It's just a thought.
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Re: Why sandalwood?

Postby drmoss_ca » Fri Aug 18, 2017 3:57 am

Read and learn. Or you could read and learn. Or even read and learn a third thing.

The vast trade and high prices of natural perfumes and, analogously, spices, indicate our ancestors lived in a world where the ability to cover up noxious smells and flavours was highly desirable. The disgust we feel on experiencing noxious smells is associated with primitive concepts of disease and this has been encoded in the ancient olfactory system in the oldest parts of our brains. There have been times in my working life where I've dealt with people who haven't washed for years, and the acrid stench that shrivels and burns the hairs in your nose isn't easily forgotten. I'm very happy that I don't live in a world where everyone smells like that, but I remember that noses become inured to smells, and just as the cigarette smoker can't smell the stale smoke, the poor denizens of that smelly world would be unable to recognise how wretchedly they smelled. The real problem would occur among those who could bathe, who did have fresh air, yet had to mingle on occasion with the unwashed, despite not having become insensitive to the smell. If they had the resources for a bathtub of hot water and a servant to draw it for them, they had both reason and gold to seek out a solution. Perfumes and peppercorns. The impetus for the precarious and unlikely overland trade in spices and perfumes with the far east was there, and vast fortunes were made.
On a curious side-note, the scented woods grew in warmer climates where trees produced scents to either repel the teeming insect life (there's a reason why your cigars come in cedar boxes), or sometimes the scent was a sign that the enemy had won, such as the fungus in agarwood that gives the characteristic musky scent of oudh. Less need for that in shorter, cooler northern summers, but I wouldn't be surprised if the characteristic scent of pines and other conifers has developed in reply to the fairly numerous insects and nematodes that can decimate their populations. And why 'the East' rather than looking southwards? There needed to be a well-organised civil society with whom to trade. One old enough to have some wealthy people who had already discovered they liked buying perfumes and had thus funded the recognition, harvesting and processing of pleasantly scented woods. In other words, they were already making scent and had some for sale. Directly south of Europe lay Africa, but that was mostly still tribal, and there was the problem of the Sahara being in the way. The discovery of scents from Africa and South America would have to wait for the development of relatively safe and reliable ships and navigation.
Of course, we now have the option of synthetic bases and fixatives, along with no end of manufactured notes that may or may not mimic natural scents. But we shall not discuss them, lest the ghost of Gordon rise and strike us down.
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Re: Why sandalwood?

Postby Rufus » Fri Aug 18, 2017 4:41 am

Chris, your most informative expose brings to mind 'The Great Stink' of London in 1858 and Joseph Bazalgette, a civil engineer, who built the sewers in London. I can't imagine how bad the smell was before proper sewers and readily available running water and plumbing. I've lived in the Far East and travelled in many third world countries and some of the smells I've experienced have been quite stomach churning. I guess the silver lining to this is the legacy of the abundance of wonderful scents available to-day.
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Re: Why sandalwood?

Postby brothers » Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:00 pm

My rich old uncle, you may know him as Sam banished me for a year in a far away land, and gave me a pillow he called M16. This was my punishment for being poor and invisible. To go with the pillow he gave me a blanket that he called a shelter-half. As a result of his thoughtfulness and generosity I had some of the best nights ever. Probably because I was so young and strong. The far away land is/was barren of plumbing and waste disposal facilities. My job required confinement to the outdoors and small third world villages of naked children and half starved adults. Upon arrival the ultimate and permanent wall of stench and heat was nauseating at first, but there was nowhere else to go, and after 30 days of fun and excitement, one had completely lost all sensory awareness that there was no waste disposal other than burning it by adding diesel fuel in some places and at some times, but primarily beside the narrow pathways on the ground. Looking back, they could have used some sandalwood. Or oud, or something, to cover up the native fragrances. Gosh, those were the days, my friend. 8)
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Re: Why sandalwood?

Postby drmoss_ca » Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:29 am

Rufus wrote:Chris, your most informative expose brings to mind 'The Great Stink' of London in 1858 and Joseph Bazalgette, a civil engineer, who built the sewers in London. I can't imagine how bad the smell was before proper sewers and readily available running water and plumbing. I've lived in the Far East and travelled in many third world countries and some of the smells I've experienced have been quite stomach churning. I guess the silver lining to this is the legacy of the abundance of wonderful scents available to-day.


Bazalgette is still a hero to municipal engineers. I used to cycle twice a day past one of his rather beautiful pumphouses on my way from my two-up-two-down slum in West Ham to UCH. Here it is at Abbey Mills:
Image

They don't make make them like that any more. There's a PDF about his work to end the Great Stink here.

I think, Gary, you know all too well the characteristic smell of unwashed humans. It's odd to think that's how we are supposed to smell, how we did smell for almost all of our evolutionary past. Just as foxes, bears and polecats have recognisable smells, we do too.

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Re: Why sandalwood?

Postby brothers » Sat Aug 26, 2017 7:54 pm

The old cowboys, frontiersmen, and mountain men (and dare I say their women!) must have grown pretty darn ripe back in the day.

Dare I say, the concertina/razor wire shown in the beautiful photo was probably intended to keep the plant operators in, because the smell alone was probably quite effective at keeping intruders out!
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Re: Why sandalwood?

Postby Squire » Thu Aug 31, 2017 5:09 pm

I'd say that's a wall to keep unsavory types out. Good stuff Chris.
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Re: Why sandalwood?

Postby drmoss_ca » Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:40 am

There was a gypsy encampment on some waste ground about 100m from the pumping station. All built on now according to Google maps, but at the time petty crime and vandalism would skyrocket each time they arrived. One can be as romantic as one likes about Romany culture and the nomadic life, but the fact remains they haven't ditched the ways of their famous forefather, Genghis Khan. No concept of property based on ownership, but on need and ability to take it. Perfectly ethical if that's your culture's ethics, but no consolation to a gadjo who has had his car stolen or his house burgled.
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Re: Why sandalwood?

Postby brothers » Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:03 pm

Supposedly, they're heavily into running cons on innocent victims then disappearing as quickly as they arrived.
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Re: Why sandalwood?

Postby Modern Ancient » Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:43 pm

drmoss_ca wrote:There was a gypsy encampment on some waste ground about 100m from the pumping station. All built on now according to Google maps, but at the time petty crime and vandalism would skyrocket each time they arrived. One can be as romantic as one likes about Romany culture and the nomadic life, but the fact remains they haven't ditched the ways of their famous forefather, Genghis Khan. No concept of property based on ownership, but on need and ability to take it. Perfectly ethical if that's your culture's ethics, but no consolation to a gadjo who has had his car stolen or his house burgled.


"Romany Culture" is an outright lie. The truth, they were Indians, who were thrown out, of India, for being criminals. Once they arrived, in Europe, they recruited many other criminal types. There are Celtic Gypsies, Hungarian Gypsies, Serbo-Croat Vlax Gypsies, and, many other types. All of them are illegal, in most countries, with certain countries imposing the death penalty, upon them (Yay, Switzerland!)
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Re: Why sandalwood?

Postby Modern Ancient » Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:44 pm

brothers wrote:Supposedly, they're heavily into running cons on innocent victims then disappearing as quickly as they arrived.


They are mobsters, pure, and, simple.
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Re: Why sandalwood?

Postby brothers » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:29 pm

You said it! There is a bit of mystery and falsely placed glamorization associated with gypsies. Maybe also a dose of sympathy, due to the overt genocide and persecution that was directed at them (among others, of course) in WW2.
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Re: Why sandalwood?

Postby drmoss_ca » Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:43 am

Modern Ancient wrote:
drmoss_ca wrote:There was a gypsy encampment on some waste ground about 100m from the pumping station. All built on now according to Google maps, but at the time petty crime and vandalism would skyrocket each time they arrived. One can be as romantic as one likes about Romany culture and the nomadic life, but the fact remains they haven't ditched the ways of their famous forefather, Genghis Khan. No concept of property based on ownership, but on need and ability to take it. Perfectly ethical if that's your culture's ethics, but no consolation to a gadjo who has had his car stolen or his house burgled.


"Romany Culture" is an outright lie. The truth, they were Indians, who were thrown out, of India, for being criminals. Once they arrived, in Europe, they recruited many other criminal types. There are Celtic Gypsies, Hungarian Gypsies, Serbo-Croat Vlax Gypsies, and, many other types. All of them are illegal, in most countries, with certain countries imposing the death penalty, upon them (Yay, Switzerland!)


It is possible to abhor crime without using genocide to show your disapproval. I should apologise to the forum for having opened a topic that leads us into political waters. SMF doesn't do politics, Modern Ancient.
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