Downtime

For a long time I had been looking forward to tonight’s Platon Karataev concert (opening for Vad Fruttik) in Budapest Park. I had planned to go just for Platon, then head over to Pontoon to hear Henri Gonzo if there was time. But when I started trying to figure out how to do it, things got more complicated, since I am leading a Szim Salom service tomorrow morning in Budapest. First I thought I’d go to the concerts, come back to Szolnok, then go to Budapest again in the morning. Then it seemed to make more sense to stay overnight at a hotel. I found something affordable and made a reservation. But then I realized that to pull this off, I’d have to rush to the train station after school, take the train to Budapest, check into the hotel, make my way out to Budapest Park (barely in time for the show), attend the Platon concert, zip out in a cab to Pontoon, listen to Henri Gonzo, go back to the hotel, wake up the next morning, go to Bálint Ház to lead the service, and return to Szolnok around 5 p.m. on Saturday. The more tired I got over the course of the week, the less this prospect appealed to me. I then returned to the idea of going to Budapest twice, but that seemed even more hectic; in the meantime, my body had started clamoring for a quiet evening. So I decided to stay home from the concerts, get a good night’s sleep, and go to Budapest tomorrow morning.

There are times when you have to do that. I know, it’s the very point of Shabbat. For me, Shabbat does not preclude Friday night concerts, train rides to Budapest, or anything like that. But tonight an evening of rest at home seemed not only wise but imperative. The week has been thick with teaching and ALSCW conference preparations. Rosh Hashanah is around the corner. The trip to the U.S. is a month away. So much has gone into it, we are all excited about it, and I want to be rested when it happens.

So not only is it good to stay home tonight, but maybe a little more rest overall is in order. Shabbat Shalom.

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  • “To know that you can do better next time, unrecognizably better, and that there is no next time, and that it is a blessing there is not, there is a thought to be going on with.”

    —Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies

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    Diana Senechal is the author of Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture and the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Her second book, Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in October 2018. In April 2022, Deep Vellum published her translation of Gyula Jenei's 2018 poetry collection Mindig Más.

    Since November 2017, she has been teaching English, American civilization, and British civilization at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary. From 2011 to 2016, she helped shape and teach the philosophy program at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering in New York City. In 2014, she and her students founded the philosophy journal CONTRARIWISE, which now has international participation and readership. In 2020, at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium, she and her students released the first issue of the online literary journal Folyosó.

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    Here is a video from the Dallas Institute's 2015 Education Forum.  Also see the video "Hiett Prize Winners Discuss the Future of the Humanities." 

    On April 19–21, 2014, Diana Senechal took part in a discussion of solitude on BBC World Service's programme The Forum.  

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