Further to my previous post regarding how I found my new given name, I’ve been spending the time since then trying to choose a new surname to complement it.
My name, for all intents and purposes within the fairly specific circle in which this currently applies, is now Kim Nightingale.
Just as before when I sought inspiration from history, this time I dove into the worlds of science, politics, philosophy, and ornithology. Similarly the same rules applied: it had to be interesting and something I could immediately associate with; it also had to sound good alongisde “Kim,” which was a task easier said than said in a way that sounds good.
Almost immediately I landed on Darwin. Charles Darwin, the author of The Origin of Species; the basis of current evolutionary theory. I’m undergoing a personal evolution in one sense. Meaningful? Check. But “Kim Darwin”? No, that doesn’t sound right at all. I moved on.
For the longest time I lingered on “Kim Newton,” for the discoverer of gravity Sir Issac Newton. It didn’t have any particular relevance outside of being a well-known British scientist, but the name sounded good so I stuck with it through much of the selection process.
One of the immediate problems I came across was the diversity of names that existed in academia. Although that provided such a wide pool to choose from, it quickly became clear that names such as Einstein, Kepler, Galilei, and Fermi weren’t going to be a good match; either from being so distinctly foreign by comparison, or otherwise being so heavily associated with their originators that detaching them would have been a lifelong uphill struggle. I thus (following a suggestion to use “Kissinger”, which I rejected for the association to Henry Kissinger) deviated to one of my other topics of interest—politics.
Not wanting the association and political imprints of those of recent memory, I aimed instead at historical figures and political philosophers that I shared ideals with. I briefly considered Marx, Hobbes, and Keynes (after Karl Marx, Thomas Hobbes, and John Maynard Keynes). I idled for a moment over Dewey (from the philosopher John Dewey, as well as Melvil Dewey—the inventor of the Dewey Decimal System). I even managed to get in a hilarious pun about Immanuel Kant.
And yet despite all my intentions, once again the ultimate inspiration for the name was not the halls of history or science or philosophy. It was a tweet.
Nightingale. Kim Nightingale. It sounds good. I could retroactively apply it to Florence Nightingale; social reformer, writer, philanthropist, and the inventor of the polar area diagram. Politics, literature, charity, design—it was a perfect inspiration. It’s even relevant to birds!
I must admit, I’m not totally sold on the name just yet, but I’m giving it a bit of time to settle in. I might come to love it.
So here I am. Say hello to—at least for the time being—Miss Kim Nightingale.