Susie and I walked into the 4th arrondissement today to attend a free concert of the music of John Dowland at l'Eglise Notre Dame des Blanc Manteaux. The concert was pleasant enough, although the sixteen people who showed up were swamped by the large church. But what caught my attention was the name chosen by the two performers for their little ensemble: Duo Nausicaa.
This brought to mind a lovely story concerning arguably my worst moment as a test-taking student. Way back in the Fall of 1951, as a first semester sophomore at Harvard, I enrolled in a required Humanities survey course, Hum 3, taught in sections. My section leader was an inoffensive little man named, rather appropriately, Mr. Brown. I was also taking, that semester, two graduate mathematical logic courses taught by Willard Van Orman Quine and Hao Wang, so I considered Hum 3 a good deal beneath me and paid it accordingly little mind.
The first reading assignment in Hum 3 was a prose translation of the Odyssey, which I read as fast as I could, and then promptly forgot, the first weekend of the term. We also read Thucydides on the Peloponnesian War. The first hour exam of the course included, among other things, a list of names that we were to identify with a sentence or two. On the list was "Nausicaa." Nausicaa, as I am sure all of you recall, is the princess who drags Odysseus off the beach that he has been washed up on after being shipwrecked on his rather extended trip home from the Trojan War. I could not for the life of me recall who or what Nausicaa was, but it seemed to me that it must be a city state allied either with Athens or Sparta in the aforementioned war, so flipping a mental coin, I put down "Nausicasa: City state allied with Sparta in the Peloponnesian War." Mr. Brown had the grace not to mark the answer wrong. He simply put the following comment: "!!!!!!!!"
Walking home, my eye caught a poster in a window of the upscale monied 4th arrondissement.
Only in Paris.