i continue to write with the forefinger of my right hand in a desperate effort to allow my left elbow to heal. perhaps tomorrow the orthopedic specialist will give me a shot of cortisone and put me out of my misery.
my story about nigel called to mind another story which has a happier ending and in addition has the great merit of being true. in the spring of 1952 i took harry austryn wolfson's great course on the philosophy of spinoza. wolfson's final exam [closed book] was three hours long and consisted of three essay questions. i had studied very hard [unlike nigel] and tackled each question with enthusiasm. i wrote feverishly until i had answered all three questions fully, only to discover that i still had another hour. i could of course have handed in my blue book and left, but this was the only written work in the course -- no quizzes, hour exams, or papers -- and i did have another hour. so i settled down and filled another blue book with everything i could recall about the ETHICS, whether it was relevant to the exam questions or not. i guess the old man appreciated my energy, because he gave me an a [this was back before you got an a at harvard just for showing up.]
one more story with a less up-beat ending. that same year, i took a year-long humanities general education course, my section of which was taught by an inoffensive little man with the curiously appropriate name mr. brown. one of the readings, which we actually were expected to complete the first weekend, was a penguin paperback prose translation of the ODYSSEY. i was also taking willard van orman quine's graduate course on mathematical logic and hao wang's graduate seminar on set theory, and as you can imagine, i considered myself rather too good for a survey humanities course [i was all of seventeen at the time.] i whipped through the ODYSSEY and did not give it another thought. the first quiz in the course included ten spot identifications, one of which was 'nausicaa,' by then, we had also read thucydides on the peloponnesian war. i figured nausicaa was a city state, but i could not recall whether it was allied with athens or sparta, so i tossed a mental coin and wrote 'city-state allied with sparta in the peloponnesian war.' mr. brown had the good grace not to mark it wrong. he simply put a series of exclamation points next to it.