Genius of Fools


For quite some time, and in a somewhat timeless fashion, I’ve found the song “Castles in the Air” by Japanese rock duo Chage & Aska to be a source of invigoration while commuting either on foot or by train—it’s just got such a tone of motivation for me, even if its logic isn’t clear. The openness of the harmony gives the musical pep talk I need to face the day.

This particular lyric always intrigued me:

Genius of fools stole the day
Everybody’s trying to find themselves a life
Somehow, some way

and I interpreted it as some version of “whoever talks loudest wins,” which isn’t in itself motivating at all as it goes completely against my philosophy. However, when I looked up the phrase “genius of fools,” I found this quote from Pope Boniface VIII:

Silence is the genius of fools and one of the virtues of the wise.

Well, I can’t argue with the wisdom of that sentiment.


In any case, I wanted to make a perfume by that name.

Being so lexically contradictory, like an oxymoron, it had to be challenging to a degree. It couldn’t be too friendly. So I brought out my spiky players: rose oxide, spikenard, Roman chamomile… and hoped juniper berry would act as a diplomat to make tactful translations between those and the safer woods and musks in the base.

No such luck.

I also recently got some new ingredients, including coffee extract, so I changed my angle and decided to make it more about a café crème. Of course, it needed more than those 2 notes, so I did more tweaking with the heart-note florals and spices on top.

A bonus: it’s a colloidal emulsion! It starts off murky, but after several hours it starts forming brown bubbles inside an increasingly clear, yellow liquid.


How does it smell?

Probably a lot closer to “fools” than to any kind of “genius”… The coffee note is going stale, like a stain from a spill, not fresh brewed. The solvent smell is quite strong and buries the flowers, so to speak. It’s in alcohol, but it’s not exactly an espresso martini. However, this mélange of dissonance evaporates fairly quickly and the drydown is harmonious, a lasting froth of musks, woods, and blond tobacco.

  • Top: Black pepper, rosewood
  • Heart: Coffee, ylang ylang, guaiacwood
  • Base: Ambroxan, Ambrettolide, Iso E Super®, methyl laitone, blond tobacco, and an ever-so-tiny dot of cade

I don’t want to spend more effort on this one right now, so I’m going to leave it at that. The coffee, which is supposed to be the star, seems to be ruining the mixture. Not that I haven’t been warned before that coffee doesn’t play well with others.

If I get inspired to attempt a “gourmand” again, I may revisit it, but for now, that’s all she wrote!






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