Le Corde Sensible 

 

by Kathleen Rooney

 

 

The Heartstring would be a good name for a cocktail: so Loulou the Pomeranian thinks every time he sees this painting. Take a champagne glass and fill it with clouds, then serve garnished with mountains on a lush river plain. Sip and comment how cumulous it tastes. 

 

Their friend Suzi, an American painter, is staying with the Magrittes to work on a book on the master. They all have drinks every evening at five—very convivial, very civilized. Suzi’s a cute drinker, already vivacious, becoming more bubbly with a glass of champagne. As they review the work of the day, Suzi finds it significant to look not just at the master, but also to the skies, making much of the fact that his sign is Scorpio. Georgette laughs and says, “Suzi, I don’t know.” “But listen!” Suzi says. “Persons born under the sign are neither talkative nor demonstrative, which is one way of recognizing them. They tend to be secret, strange, and disquieting, full of unusual premonitions and intuitions.” 

 

“Let me guess,” says the master. “They have a special taste for the bizarre, the subversive, the mysterious and the scabrous.” Suzi nods, and Georgette refills their glasses. Loulou, a series of dogs, only some of whom know their exact birthdays, says, “Interesting. I’m a Pisces and a Taurus and a Capricorn and a Cancer.” With each answer, Suzi exclaims about high compatibility. 

 

One heart and one string, or one heart and several strings? Not all paintings are painless, but all paintings are shams. Representation, as the master says, is as “an agreeable cheat.” Trompe l’oeil, fooling the eye; trompe l’esprit, fooling the mind. Suzi sets down her glass to pet him, and Loulou’s perimeter fluctuates furrily, like a shape in the mist.