Time flies

Alice: How long is forever?”

– White Rabbit: “Sometimes, just one second”


Living for the present. Enjoying a moment for what it is, not thinking about  it might become.

Immediacy guides our relations: with people, with our surroundings and even with perfume. Immediacy is at the root of our contemporary Western social structure: we have passed from an industrial society to a society of communication. As the Futurist Marinetti wrote, “The world’s magnificence has been enhanced by a new beauty: the beauty of speed.” 

These days we have passed well beyond speed. We live in the age of synchronicity.

Synchronicity eliminates space: we are capable of being present, despite being physically distant. Telepresence is our way of existing in this world and the media have to underpin this condition, by being as transparent as possible. Means of communication have to mediate, without showing how they do it. 

Immediacy, naturalness and transparency: everything should have the flavour of real life. In our “real life online”, we are always connected with each other, always present, always on, always in the loop, ready and instantly reachable.

The culture of immediacy changes how we perceive ourselves, in both time and space. Can we also change how we smell, our olfactory preferences? Can we argue that the success of many fragrances with a characteristic simple, linear composition is due to the need for immediacy that permeates our entire lives?

Debate about this raged during the latest edition of Esxence, with a range of opinions being expressed (you can experience it for yourself by watching the video of the panel moderated by Eddie Buliqi https://youtu.be/u8OmbrWdxM0).

Personally, when I think of a perfume, I think of a story, a slow evolution from the head notes, the ones you perceive in the morning when you have just dabbed them on, until the bottom notes, to savour in the evening as you shed your clothes. But if our most favoured form of communication is visual, does that mean that perfume also has to adjust? From a novel to become “stories“?

Just as a photograph has to express our entire way of being at any given moment: it has to represent us with instantaneous clarity.

“…a simple way of capturing and sharing the most beautiful moments in your life”.

Should niche perfumery keep up with this race or slow down and try to change rhythm? Or should it just go its own way, without forgetting the artistic nature that gave birth to it?

Fast Food and Fast Feeling are different senses with the same risk, a shared base of movements that were born for the very purpose of countering that irrepressible headlong rush. 

Slow Food paved the way: an international movement that started life in Italy in the eighties to “oppose the universal folly of Fast Life and defend quiet material pleasure […] rediscover the flavours and savours of regional cooking and banish the degrading effects of Fast Food”.

Slow Flowers is an association that sets out to promote the choice of flowers grown following the rhythms of nature.

Slow Perfume is a movement that involves different actors in the world of perfumery, such as Osmothèque in Paris, and aims to enable people to discover their olfactory roots, exploring the wealth of perfume’s history.

The senses of taste, of sight and of smell all speak to us about social dynamics.

Carpe diem: seize the day. Be here and now. Whether you are an Epicurean or a collector of pleasures, as Bauman put it. Immediacy is our way of experiencing our world and of relating to others: we chase after time, believing that we are experiencing our lives, while we are often doing no more than running away from our expectations, delusions and commitments. An endless present, with no depth at all.

During the tea party attended by Alice, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare seems to be able to stop time. It is always time for tea, everyday they are ready for a party. But a closer look reveals that tea has always just been poured but is never actually drunk: nobody every enjoys that pleasure because there is never time to slow down.


Bauman Z., La società dell’incertezza

Carroll L., Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Muscelli C., L’altro e il tempo dell’immediatezza, Rivista di estetica, 56 | 2014, 35-53

Petrini C. , Slow Food – Le ragioni del gusto






A cura di Beatrice Balzarotti – master’s degree in Anthropology & Ethnology. She studies the forms of communication in their cultural framework, with a sensorial and emotional perspective.