I find her reading in her office, and ask what her new poem is about.
"That starling we saw," she says, "the one trapped in the Amtrak station."
"And that's what it's about."
"So a tale of triumph," I say. "Little guy against the corporate machine?"
"No," she says. "Via negativa. Apophasis. I'm thinking of what it is not. That's the best way sometimes."
"What what is not?"
"What the starling is not." She points at her corkboard. "Why don't you just read it?"
I do, and for a moment I feel as if the top of my head has come off; immediately followed by the rather unpleasant sensation that someone is rattling a stick around in there.
"Whoa!" I say. "Deep." I pretend to stagger for a while under the weight of its profundity.
A little later on, Joseph Cornell makes an appearance. Being unashamed of admitting my illiteracy, let me admit here and now that I had to google him. I find that, though not a Surrealist, 'he admired the work and technique of Surrealists like Max Ernst and René Magritte'.
This is the kind of thing I love: chasing fleeting thoughts before they evaporate. This is when I remember that Magritte is famous for his painting, La Trahison des Images (ceci ne'st pas une pipe), or, The Treachery of Images (This is not a pipe).
Of this painting, Foucault said "Magritte knits verbal signs and plastic elements together, but without referring them to a prior isotopism. He skirts the base of affirmative discourse on which resemblance calmly reposes, and he brings pure similitudes and nonaffirmative verbal statements into play within the instability of a disoriented volume and an unmapped space. A process whose formulation is in some sense given by Ceci n’est pas une pipe."
Ah, yes. The theorist in an artist's space. The opacity could make you weep; our Poet who, if she doesn't exactly wail and gnash her teeth, has disastrously frank things to say:
She pushes the coffee table aside so she can see me, and with a little struggle, props herself up on her elbows. "Don't you understand?" she cries out with slurred despair. "They're coming for you, too. Fiction is the new poetry. They're going to start writing essays like, 'Can Fiction Matter?'"
"Who's coming for me?"
"The great monobrow! All those goddamn fundamentalists, hungry for the literal truth." She points at me.
In vino veritas.
Of course, Cheshire Cat, commenting on this post at Falstaff's, asks a question that would make Magritte proud: "wouldn't it be perfect if the Poet was fictional?"
Who says she isn't?!