"Semi-Facts," Or All Fiction? And A Brief Note On This "Petty Bickering"

Lots of straw, and time to enjoy it.

I want to take a moment to address an aspect of From Pyrgos that some readers have described as "annoying," "unnecessary," "pointless," and "bickering." It concerns the frequent mention of Bigsly and his blog, and the ongoing dialogue between our blogs, which now spans several years.

Recently on basenotes, a member who apparently reads me on occasion called this dialogue "petty bickering," as if our exchanges can be reduced to that. Perhaps "petty" is how some readers see it, but I can't help thinking this criticism is, for lack of a better term, a stretch. Is the reader really being "put out" by contentious exchanges between two blogs? Please. As with most blogs, From Pyrgos has tags, and you can easily choose exactly what you want to read. Let's get something straight here. I'm not "just another review blog." My reviews are not simplistic ("This fragrance sucks! / I love this POWERHOUSE"), and my style is not "No Nonsense" at an eighth grade reading level. If you want that, there are other overrated, half-dead blogs that provide it.

From Pyrgos is written to provide insights into individual fragrances, and the arguments fueling their reception by the public. I'm interested in the different tones of the culture we inhabit, and enjoy debating and arguing the merits of other writers' points. To date, only Bigsly criticizes me with any substance, and I provide counterarguments to his positions when I feel it is beneficial to readers. This isn't done to "bicker." It's done to help frame how newbies and casual enthusiasts understand some of the more item-specific discussions in our relatively small and obsessive community. I apologize if any of it bores you, and if it doesn't, then all the better.

That said, I will briefly address the recent invention of the term "semi-facts," which could only come from Bigsly. We are told that they "dominate" the fragrance industry. I could wax on about the term's absurdity, and how anything "semi-factual" must also be "semi-fictional." I suppose I could delve into how convenient it must be to create oddball terms to support equally odd arguments, but none of this is necessary. I am not interested in arguing for the sake of arguing here, but I would like to straighten the record on a few things. Bigsly's main weakness has always been his fondness for making straw man arguments, or arguments refuting positions that nobody has ever held.

Bigsly refers to his June 20th post in his most recent article, and attempts to re-frame our exchange with the following:

"In one of my other posts, I introduced the concept of the 'semi-fact,' which I’d say is the opposite of Stephen Colbert’s 'truthiness.' That is, instead of sounding true but not being true, the semi-fact is something that the 'contrarian' (or 'stick in the mud') might argue against, but is otherwise clearly functional to the rest of us (though many may not have investigated the matter). The example I used was the argument against my point that there are thousands of much less expensive scents than Sauvage one can find at the discounters and on ebay."

Perhaps he isn't addressing me, but I'm curious about who he is addressing, because nobody has argued against the idea that "there are thousands of much less expensive scents than Sauvage." Because nobody has ever argued this point, and it is presented very early in his post, everything that follows seems to rest on this straw man argument. It is one that was never presented here or anywhere else, to my knowledge.

He continues, with a marked fondness for the word "indeed":

"Why would anyone go to the mall – and pay 'mall prices?' Indeed, there must be far more than a few such people who indeed pay more than they probably should have (this is the majority of men who buy such scents, isn’t it?). Such people may not even know that Playboy has their name on any fragrance nor that there is such a fragrance brand as Iceberg! A small percentage of these people go to Fragrantica and write up glowing reviews of this 'great new fresh scent.' Use your browser’s find feature and see how many times the word fresh is used in a Fragrantica review of Sauvage! So, we have another semi-fact here, because it’s beyond obvious that there are some significantly different ways that people perceive the value of these concoctions . . . "

Why pay mall prices? I already answered that: in many cases, "mall prices" are the only prices for brand-new frags by Dior and Chanel. Good luck finding better prices for new bottles on the internet. You have to navigate a minefield of counterfeits and "partially-used" or "tester" bottles from eBay merchants and obscure discount sites.

Bigsly asks his question, then tries to answer it by discussing "cheaper alternatives" like Playboy and Iceberg scents, but his questions have nothing to do with Playboy and Iceberg. Clearly there are cheap fragrances that smell good and are worth buying, but how do they relate to designer fragrances? How does their appeal to buyers usurp the appeal of buying designer scents? He never makes these connections with any specifics. He goes on about "semi-facts," a very straw-manly argument that carefully sidesteps the one complete fact on the table: scent-wise, Sauvage is unique.

Its uniqueness is the key to this discussion. In their reviews for Sauvage, I've noticed that some guys are referring to it as a fougère. This is interesting, because very few designers are issuing fougères these days. YSL's Rive Gauche Pour Homme was the last major designer fragrance to be celebrated as a fougère, and that was thirteen years ago. Maybe, as time goes on, I'll begin seeing comparisons between Sauvage and a few old-school fougères from the seventies and eighties, which may reveal a clearer lineage for this new scent that is not presently being explored.

If I want Sauvage, then no Playboy or Iceberg scent will have meaning for me, at least not in the context of wanting to wear something like Sauvage. Any interest I might have in cheaper brands would revolve around other things, like whatever value-to-quality ratio exists with those products. These elements would not correlate with my interest (or disinterest) in Sauvage.

There are no "semi facts" or half truths here. There is just the one stark fact that Sauvage is its own thing, and you can either take it or leave it.


  1. Hah!
    I get a laugh out of "perfumistas/perfumistos" whose sole theme in all their writings & opinions tends toward "but I can find equal or better scents for less $."
    Yes, there are some true bargains out there in perfumes but you'll have to suffer sniffing a lot of dreck to find them. If that's your only angle in your writing I suppose there's a certain following for that mindset. A true perfumista would want to sniff everything from dreck to divine to simply develop a "scent vocabulary" and define their taste I would think. Personally, if price is such a concern for you pursuing a hobby involving "luxury" items like perfume is probably going to get a bit frustrating at some point. (Kind of like pursuing Formula 1 racing on a bicycle budget.) I think Mr Bigsly is stuck in frustrated mode for this reason. Seems a bit repetitive and boring to me but I suppose for some it's entertaining.

    1. He could save everyone the time and just admit he's frustrated, but instead we get his blog and endless posts on Basenotes.

  2. Why not create a new blog for him called FromBigsly that will allow Bigsly a special place to vent and plant his personal frustrations towards you? Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and mindful July 4th!

    1. I imagine that's how he views his own blog.


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