The title here is in reference to the human flesh search engine, and only in theory, not in practice. The ‘flesh engine’ is used for public humiliation, but the idea of it is simply the use of a distributed process using humans as opposed to computers – not artificial intelligence exactly, but an artificially-mediated human intelligence. Nonetheless, this organizing agent, the whole of a particular population, produces a unique database of smell-descriptions that defies our contemporary notions of a “searchable database” to create the dirtiest of dirty data.
Snippets from Hidden Scents; this one is in relation to the way People organize the names of smells, as compared to the science of chemistry or the fragrance industry:
In this compartment of olfactory classification, smell is organized by the human organism at large, the flesh of the anthroposphere, if you will. Whereas scientific taxonomies and fragrance industry inventories are themselves products of human endeavor – created for humans by humans – the (unconscious) categorization of odors by the general population is a separate system altogether.