Associative potential

“Smell is, with its storing and retrieving characteristics, an associative and expansive rather than an distributive and limiting sensory mode. The lack of terminological paradigms as they exist for colors necessitates linguistic detour through the metaphoric, that is a breach of reference level in the text each time we attempt to describe smells adjectivally. The same holds true for the common reference to smells in terms of their origins. “It smells like” or “the smell of” expresses relations of combination and contiguity rather than of selection and similarity. These two points may serve as a preliminary explanation of why the sense of smell is so often considered the most apt to trigger memory. Its very linguistic structure brings up an Other, a reference to the outside.” – HANS RINDISBACHER

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Source: Rindisbacher, H. J. (1992). The smell of books: a cultural-historical study of olfactory perception in literature. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, p. 15.