Thursday, July 19, 2007

Death of a Perfume Blogger

“On the stone an ancient hand
In a faded yellow-green
Made alive a worldly wonder
Often told but never seen

Before the fall when they wrote it on the wall

When there wasn't even any Hollywood

They heard the call
And they wrote it on the wall

For you and me we understood…

(Steely Dan, “The Caves of Altamira”)

Blogs are not people, and even though they reflect some part of a person's life, there are some things that can never be told or seen through this virtual window to their soul.

And how many times did you click through your web links only to
find out that your favourite scent blog didn't have a new entry at all in the past week? How many times did the thought "oh no, maybe s/he died this week" pass your mind silently only to be ignored by another thought "Why does so and so ever bother to keep a blog if they let it go stale for so long?!".

While the later thought is admittedly rude and judgemental (things
do happen in life, you know, outside of that 13" wide MacBook of yours (Gheesh, go get a life now dammit!), the initial one is strangely realistic and rational.

And who is going to start a paragraph with an “And”, now that we learned of the tragic and terrible news of the tragic death of Ms. Theresa Duncan. Who is going to quote mostly Steely Dan to open a perfume review. And why did I need to have the “wit of the staircase to only link to her blog now that she’s dead, and not before when it might just make her ever so slightly happier. Perhaps just enough to stay alive.

The news of death of a fellow blogger, even if one I’ve never communicated with directly (well, I did try to leave a comment a couple of times, but I haven’t the faintest clue if it came through). Communication is the message you get. And I definitely got plenty of messages from Theresa Duncan. And even if I don’t know her in person, at least I know a few things about her which are meaningful enough for me to include in this post.

Theresa started most of her perfume reviews with a quote.
Theresa usually mentioned the perfume she reviewed only once in the blog entry about it.
Theresa always picked quite bizarre and at times provocative and stunningly beautiful photographs that were borderline fashion and art. The last image she posted was called "fireworks" and looked like this.
The last perfume she reviewed was Aria di Capri by Carthusia.
Theresa loved many of Serge Lutens perfumes. Far more than any other blogger I’ve read.
Theresa had one talented way of expressing her thoughts and memories and link them to perfume. I may have not been able to relate to them all, or fully understand them, but I sure feel that she opened one intimate window into her soul by writing about them for us all to read.
Theresa seemed to have changed her writing style slightly recently, speaking as “we” rather than “me” or “I”. She even mentioned a “Mr. Wit”. She seemed to be in love.
Theresa’s last quote was from the Koran.

Theresa also seemed to mention or think about God, the spiritual and the metaphysical quite often recently – in the quote from the Koran, the reference to the creation of light, as well as a previous post related to Kabbalaa (By the way: in Hebrew, Kala means bride).
Theresa loved the sun and loved California. She hated New York. And this is where she died.
Theresa loved Steely Dan. So do I.
The last Steely Dan quote Theresa used was from “Rose Darling”.
So let’s close our eyes and listen to it now (really, close your eyes so you don't see the afwul montage… Sorry for lack of a visually better version). Wherever you are, Theresa, may your soul be at peace and enjoy the loveliest perfumes, words and music.

Related links:
Theresa's Last Post on Wit of the Staircase
Interview on
Interview on
Jeremy Blake's work
Jeremy Blake on
New York Times July 21 2007
New York Daily News July 21st 2007
LAObserver July 19th 2007

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At July 23, 2007 8:02 PM, Blogger Formerly Fooled said...

That was very nice. One correction, though....Theresa Duncan's last quote was from the bible, not the Koran. Here it is:

"Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
-- 2 Corinthians (3:17)

~ Mary McConnell

At July 23, 2007 8:17 PM, Blogger Ayala Moriel said...

Mary, thanks for visiting, reading and commenting on this post about Theresa Duncan's tragic death. In her post I believe she was quoting the Koran. Here is the quote:
"It is He who maketh the stars as beacons for you, that ye may guide yourselves, with their help, through the dark spaces of land and sea: We detail our signs for people who know."

And later on there was a reference to "Let There Be Light" from Torah (AKA the Old Testament).

At July 29, 2007 12:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yours is a very thoughtful tribute. I just found out about this a few days ago, you are only the second perfume blogger to mention it, to my knowledge. I read her blog regularly, except the past few months something was blocking my browser's access, I never did figure it out, then one day last week it was fine and I went in and read the last few months of her writing, which seemed so dark even compared to her usual style. Weirdly, the very next site I read was where I found out about her suicide (The Scented Salamander) and I was truly shocked. She was obviously a very intelligent and intensely creative person. It is a great loss and I will miss her. She was an acquired taste, perhaps, but I was definitley a fan.

At August 01, 2007 9:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I work for the New York Times and am thinking of doing a story about how Theresa Duncan's writing on her blog touched so many people who didn't know her personally. Could I interview you?
Patti Cohen

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