§8. Presentments as Signs 1)

313. A mere presentment may be a sign. When the traditional blind man said he thought scarlet must be something like the sound of a trumpet, he had caught its blatancy very well; and the sound is certainly a presentment, whether the colorP1) is so or not. Some colors are called gay, others sad. The sentiment of tones is even more familiar; that is, tones are signs of visceral qualities of feeling. But the best example is that of odors, for these are signs in more than one way. It is a common observation that odors bring back old memories. This I think must be due, in part at least, to the fact that, whether from the peculiar connection of the olfactory nerve with the brain or from some other cause, odors have a remarkable tendency to presentmentate themselves, that is to occupy the entire field of consciousness, so that one almost lives for the moment in a world of odor. Now in the vacuity of this world, there is nothing to obstruct the suggestions of association. That is one way, namely by contiguous association, in which odors are particularly apt to act as signs. But they also have a remarkable power of calling to mind mental and spiritual qualities. This must be an effect of resemblance-association, if under resemblance-association we include all natural associations of different ideas. I certainly would do this; for I do not know what else resemblance can consist in.

A lady's favorite perfume seems to me somehow to agree with that of her spiritual being. If she uses none at all her nature will lack perfume. If she wears violet she herself will have the very same delicate fineness. Of the only two I have known to use rose, one was an artistic old virgin, a grande dame; the other a noisy young matron and very ignorant; but they were strangely alike. As for those who use heliotrope, frangipanni, etc., I know them as well as I desire to know them. Surely there must be some subtle resemblance between the odor and the impression I get of this or that woman's nature.

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