punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Imagine a world with no smell... or that would not admit to it

They always ask if a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? I always say it did, because to assume that it does not make a sound simply because the sound is not observed implies that observation is the defining point of an effect.

When I explain certain concepts to people, I always use one of the least used of the five senses: smell. Dogs can smell so much more than we can. Not only traces of where other dogs have been, but they can tell which dog it was, the general health of the other dog, as well as some other things, like some dogs that can detect oncoming seizures, and a few that can even smell cancer. Imagine that world, and how different it would be if we could smell on that level. I am not talking suddenly, I am talking born with it.

The human vocabulary is severely limited by the sense of smell. The word “smell” is so infrequently used, it is lumped as a noun and a verb. As a verb, it can mean two things. Let’s take the most basic form: “He smells.” It could mean his ability, or the fact that odors come from him. Let’s take the latter form. There is no nice way to say that someone has a pleasant smell about them, without making the sentence long and awkward. Even, “You smell nice today, Julie,” has an awkward feel to it. You’re almost forced to say, “That perfume you are wearing is very pleasant,” or something like that, without a verb that describes odor. The word “odor” is often negative, even if you say, “Ellen has a nice odor about her today.” Even positive words like “fragrance” seem to carry an underlying hint that things are otherwise.

But say you were born with a dog’s sense of smell. Let’s say it’s slightly better. Your world would be full of sensations you could never quite describe. You’d be left with, “Mark, you smell... sick. You okay?” or “James, you’re about to have a seizure in 30 minutes. No, no one told me you have epilepsy, I swear! But you’re going to have one. You smell like it.” You would know a lot of odd things, like the conference room had a large man with diabetes visit it a few hours ago. You’d probably have all kinds of insight we can only dream about. What if sunlight had a smell? What if you could “see” in the dark based on smell alone. Combined with hearing, you’d just walk around. The world would be a rainbow of colors you could never describe to another. Maybe it would never be taught to you, so you always had these “weird sensations” that would be suppressed by upbringing, denial, or possibly medications.

Say you had the normal ability to smell, but were in a world where almost no one else did. Things like knowing what someone was cooking in another room in the house, or detecting fires before they spread might be considered psychic. Or mental instability. You wouldn’t know how to describe how you knew, because there would be no vocabulary to frame it with. We know it as “smell cinnamon” or “smokey odor” but to a world with no smell? How would you describe the sensation? How do you describe the color blue to a man blind since birth?

Sometimes I wonder if this is where the “sixth sense” lies, or possibly, there is more than just one extra sense, maybe the “sixth sense” is actually a collective for a variety of different undefined senses. Like eighth, ninth, or tenth senses. There’s a bunch of us that have a certain ability to detect things that seem impossible to the five senses, but since we have never had the training from childhood, nor have the vocabulary, it’s faded into background noise or redefined as coincidence. Those that claim psychic abilities are either crazy or frauds. But what if we all had these senses, and due to upbringing or genetics, we have varying levels. Some can “see” auras, “detect” magnetic frequencies, or “smell” spirits.

Makes ya think... don’t it?
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