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Pom’ Po Pom’ Po Pom Po Pom Pon

Fauvism comes from the phrase les fauves, which Loulou the Pomeranian knows means wild beasts. The master has chosen for a moment to imitate them: savage colors snarling. Loulou is a beast, and also a darling, so his imitation of un-domestication can strike quite naturally. Is that a candle glowing in the corner of the canvas? Is that a ham humming meatily next to the second yellow drum? Why is the musical rabbit green? Is this about Easter? Bunnies are funny. Bunnies are fun. Bunnies in the garden hard-press Loulou not to lose his dog mind and bark like a dog. When he peers out and sees their velvet ears haunting the shrubs, he hears them taunt: Pom’ po pom’ po pom po pom pon, like the beat of percussion. Their twitchy noses thrum among the begonias and Loulou, half-mad, hurls his fuzzy body like a bomb and they scatter. The satisfaction feels like a shattered rainbow and Loulou has to close his eyes. Re-opening them, he laughs to see the master in his suit and polished shoes at the back door and Georgette holding his hand, bemused at Loulou, alert in the dirt. “Follow your interests as you have them,” he says. “Don’t wait until later.” 


Les Muscles Célestes

Most people do not really want to have fun, nor do they understand how. Most people don’t know what they consider fun to be, at least not personally. In knowing for yourself, though, Georgette perceives the greatest kind of power.

Her husband, he knows and has known for a long time. It took some flexing, it took some exercise. To build muscles like these, the muscles of the sky—the first painting he completed beneath the skies of Paris.

Georgette likes seeing the sky in other places they’ve gone with Loulou the Pomeranian: New York City with its scraped sky, the deserts in Israel where the sky is ancient and dry, Venice where the sky attaches as a limb to the water’s body, Texas where the sky has a drawl and calls you “y’all,” etc. They travel as a triumvirate, but they take few holidays, uncoerced into unfun caring for blobs of money or conquering the plains of fame. Their life is a holiday—big as the sky. 


Le Principe Du Plaisir

The master would never accede to psychoanalysis, but he has titled this painting after a concept from Freud. The Pleasure Principle explains that people seek pleasure and avoid unpleasure, a.k.a. pain.

Loulou the Pomeranian knows, because the master has told him so, that this image is a portrait of his friend and patron, the eccentric English gentleman Edward James, a Surrealist enthusiast if ever there was one. But his posture seems strange: his right hand strains against the wooden table, and a cratered gray rock—a piece of the moon?—rests in front of his left, which could grab it, but doesn’t.

James is portrayed as a man with a light, a light for a head. Shedding all around not fur but rays. A corona ringing the ball of fire that glows from his neck. What the heck does it mean? Loulou wonders, but knows better than to ask. The master likes him to figure things out in his own way. The pleasure principle creates the satisfaction that a person attains after grasping knowledge.

Loulou feels pleasure every time he apprehends what Magritte is getting at. Here, that an effective portrait is a representation of the thing, but not the thing itself. To articulate his discovery, Loulou uses a thinker whom the master prefers to Freud: “It reminds me,” he says, “of what Hegel thought rightly—that ‘Art is cheapened if it imitates the normal and the psychological; it must not copy the world but reveal it.’” The master smiles, and the room pops like a candle has just been lighted, and Loulou shines several lumens brighter.  


Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a publisher of literary work in hybrid genres, and a founding member of Poems While You Wait. She is co-editor with Eric Plattner of The Selected Writings of René Magritte, forthcoming from Alma Books (UK) and University of Minnesota Press (U.S.) in 2016. She is also author of seven books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, including, most recently, the novel O, Democracy! (2014) and the novel in poems Robinson Alone (2012). Her second novel, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in 2017.