Forms of Attention

Attention is so vast and varied, its forms may seem to have nothing in common. It can involve alertness or a lack of it, an inward focus, or a focus on something beyond the self. The object of attention may be single or multiple, or it may not be an object at all. That is, you can pay attention without knowing exactly what it is you are paying attention to. It could be something other than what you think. Attention can take you somewhere you didn’t expect to go.

If I had to explain the joy of going to hear Platon Karataev—the duo or the full band—in different settings, different cities, I would say that most of it can’t be explained; it goes far beyond what I can put words or ideas to. But it’s about as far from “groupiness” as you can get. It has to do with the music, the lyrics, the musicians, the attention that fills all the layers of their concerts. The attention within the songs, the attention they give each other, in the moment, the audience’s attention, their attention to the audience. It isn’t all about attention—there’s much more to it—but the attention at any of their concerts becomes part of my life. What I bring as an audience member, what each audience member brings, also takes part in the event and follows us, slightly or greatly changed, out the door.

Yesterday I went to the beautiful old city of Győr—for the first time—to hear the Platon Karataev duo play at the Protestant (Református) church, as part of the Öt Templom Fesztivál (Five Churches Festival), a week of concerts and other events at five of their religious sites: the Evangelical Old Church, the Catholic Church, the Protestant Church, the Synagogue, and the Greek Catholic Church. I had decided to go only if I could get enough done beforehand: I am playing cello in a big citywide student theatre performance this week at the Szigligeti Szinház, and working on a new song, so I needed to practice; also, I needed to make enough headway with Folyosó that the spring issue could come out on Monday (tomorrow). I accomplished both of these and set out by train.

The concert was special: an absolutely hushed audience, not even any clapping except at the beginning and end. Beloved songs, new details that I heard in them, a new song too, warm, large lights that poured out slowly changing color, and an attention that began before the concert, grew and grew during it, and lingered long after its ending.

I took no pictures during the concert, but the picture above is of the keyhole, while I was still outside and they were doing a soundcheck. I was listening through the door for a minute or two and glimpsing the red light through the crack.

Getting there was simple enough: a train to the Budapest Keleti station, then a train to Győr from the same station. The return took a few more steps: a train to the Kelenföld station, a metro to Kálvin tér, a transfer to another metro line (amazingly, the M3 is now in full operation, after five years of repairs), a metro to the Nyugati station, and a slow train back to Szolnok. But it all worked out without a hitch, and I walked home from the Szolnok station and even stayed up a little longer afterward, past 2 a.m.

On the train to Győr, I was rereading Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and came to the sentence (which repeats with variations in the novel), “They felt they were standing on a snow-covered plain, shivering with cold.” The Platon Karataev song “Atoms” (the title song of their second album) quotes it almost directly; I started hearing the song in the novel and vice versa. I thought about the genius of the translator and editor who did not make the mistake of deeming “shivering with cold” redundant and reducing it to just plain “shivering.” If it had been just “shivering,” would “Atoms” have come into existence? Or if it had, would it be anything like the song we know?

We can get caught up in foolishness: dogmatic, mechanical ideas about anything at all, including editing, including reduction. There’s a misconception that writing should be reduced, always, to the minimum words needed; if words seem to repeat each other’s meaning, then all but one should go, according to rigid dictates. But this is wrong; “shivering with cold” is not a redundancy, even after the mention of the snow-covered plain. It adds to the layers of cold; it also suggests that you could be shivering with something else. Also, it’s beautiful. When I listen to it, I know it must stay. It is the song that opened up this sentence to me.

Aristophanes plays with necessary redundancies (which are not redundancies, in fact) in Frogs: in the contest between Euripides and Aeschylus, Euripides chides Aeschylus for his repetitions, but both Aeschylus and Dionysos suggest that he has missed the point. (While the whole exchange is playful, I sense Aristophanes siding with Aeschylus just a little here.) Here is the passage (in the translation of B.B. Rogers):

DIO. Give him another: (to Eur.) you, look out for faults.

AESCH. Be thou my saviour and mine aid to-day, For here I come, and
hither I return

EUR. The same thing twice says clever Aeschylus.

DIO. How twice?

EUR. Why, just consider: I’ll explain. “I come,” says he; and “I
return,” says he: It’s the same thing, to “come” and to “return.”

DIO. Aye, just as if you said, “Good fellow, lend me
A kneading trough: likewise, a trough to knead in.”

AESCH. It is not so, you everlasting talker,
They’re not the same, the words are right enough.

DIO. How so? inform me how you use the words.

AESCH. A man, not banished from his home, may “come”
To any land, with no especial chance.
A home-bound exile both “returns” and “comes.”

DIO. O good, by Apollo! What do you say, Euripides, to that?

EUR. I say Orestes never did “return.” He came in secret: nobody
recalled him.

DIO. O good, by Hermes! (Aside.) I’ve not the least suspicion what he

EUR. Repeat another line.

DIO. Ay, Aeschylus, Repeat one instantly: you, mark what’s wrong.

AESCH. Now on this funeral mound I call my father To hear, to

EUR. There he is again. To “hear,” to “hearken”; the same thing,

DIO. Aye, but he’s speaking to the dead, you knave,
Who cannot hear us though we call them thrice.

AESCH. And how do you make your prologues?

EUR. You shall hear; And if you find one single thing said twice,
Or any useless padding, spit upon me.

“Useless padding” does exist and should be avoided; often, when you strip down a sentence, you make it much stronger and fresher than before. But not always. One must dare the distinctions. Aristophanes’ Euripides seems a bit obtuse in this regard.

This brings up the question of repetition: even very close echoes of a word or phrase can bring something new. So can a supposedly repeated experience, like a concert. You can feel the samenesses and differences mixing. Last night I thought I heard something new at the end of “Lassú madár,” which is sometimes my favorite of all the Platon Karataev songs. It was nothing added or taken away: just (in my ears) a different articulation just before the end, a minuscule pause before the final “gyorsabb az égboltnál.” A tiny detail in the midst of the larger magic.

And this was even with an imperfect sound system; something was crackling here and there in the wires, but this little crackle became beautiful, wrapped up in the whole.

Part of The Unbearable Lightness of Being has to do with misunderstood words, or words that people understand in different, sometimes contradictory ways. “Attention” could be one of these words. People’s different forms of attention can sometimes be confused with lack of attention. When people say, “You’re not listening!” or “You’re not paying attention!” they often mean, “You’re not paying attention in the way that I expect you to pay attention.” One of the most moving aspects of a Platon Karataev duo concert is the way Sebő and Gergő pay such close attention to each other, even while differing (somewhat) in their forms of attention. This could be said about many musicians who play well together, but here it takes a form and depth not quite like anything else.

I leave off with some pictures from the day. The first one was taken from the train window; if you zoom in, you can see a bird in the bare tree. The second was shortly after my arrival in Győr; the third, during my wandering around the old part of the city; the fourth and fifth, as I headed over to the concert (you can see the Platon Karataev duo mentioned on the billboard, and the synagogue in the background); the sixth, after the concert, on the way back to the train station, and the seventh, in Budapest, just before I boarded the train to Szolnok. Now back to the cello and Folyosó.

Update: Here are some photos of the concert, taken by someone other than me.

“North Maine Woods” (a few thoughts in fewer words)

Cz.K. Sebő’s new capsule boy song, “North Maine Woods,” came out just a few hours ago. (capsule boy is his electronic project.) This dreamy, veiled piece is (in part) a love song to the place in Maine where he worked one summer, years ago, and where he has never returned. The immediate feeling is recognizable: a place that you love and can never return to, because even if you do go back there one day, it will be different and so will you. A loss that can’t be taken away. But also a sense of being there forever, always carrying it. Both of these at the same time.

But then what the song does with this is so gentle and subtle that even the idea seems like a passageway into something else. I love the part in the middle where the keyboards sound like trees on fire. And the part where everything pares down, then slowly builds up, rises up again. The sound has many different textures wrapping and unwrapping slowly. Individual notes take me by surprise. It evokes some sort of memory or else creates it from scratch, sending me on a search.

It evokes other music too—I can’t figure out what. Maybe Brendan Perry’s 1999 solo album Eye of the Hunter, for instance, the song “Death Will Be My Bride.” Perry’s sound is different, though: more upfront and pristine. I don’t think I’ll figure out what this reminds me of, since it’s an indirect likeness. For that matter, it might be reminding me of itself, since I have heard it a couple times at concerts. This can happen with a song I love: it seems to bring up another song, but that other song is like the woods in Maine, lost but present.

I don’t know whether this or “Funeral Circular” is my favorite capsule boy song so far. Let them both be, in different ways.

Congratulations to Cz.K. Sebő for this song and to Fruzsina Balogh for the cover art.

Disguises upon Disguises

One of the most fascinating and moving aspects of Shakespeare’s plays is the employment of disguise. Hamlet suggests to his companions that he is going to affect an “antic disposition”; Juliet, advised by Friar Laurence, fakes her death; theg witches fool Macbeth with their elusive prophesies; Beatrice and Benedick pretend to abhor each other; and so on. Shakespeare understood what Tom in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie would articulate centuries later: “But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.” (But in Shakespeare’s plays, the disguise can work both ways.)

Disguise is filled with irony too; Cordelia’s sincere words frame her as the ungrateful child. Iago’s treachery cloaks itself in the guises of honesty.

The plays may lead us to ask ourselves what disguises we are wearing, what layers of disguises. Even the performances involve disguises: not only masks and costumes, not only the assumption of roles, but other wrappings as well. For example, in the beginning, when we were just starting to prepare the scene from Romeo and Juliet, none of the boys wanted to be Romeo—partly, I think, because of all the lines involved, and partly because of his smittenness. So we broke the part in three: one Romeo notices Juliet at the ball, and then, when the silhouette part begins, a different Romeo says the lines while yet a third takes part in the silhouette. Also, we emphasized the dances in the scene, thus taking some of the pressure off of Romeo and Juliet both. They liked this solution and took to it enthusiastically. Capulet is the one who speaks the most—calling for more fire and light, urging the guests to dance, reminiscing with his cousin, and trying to calm Tybalt down. Although he is not in a mask, as host he wears many disguises, trying to tend to others, while also yearning for a successful party, which not only helps assure his daughter’s future but brings back memories of his youth.

All of this leads me to a beloved song in three versions (and possibly disguises): “Disguise” by Cz.K. Sebő. It has more in common with Shakespearean disguises than may seem on the surface, even though, to my knowledge, it is not directly influenced by Shakespeare’s work. The original version, solo acoustic guitar and voice, was released by Cz.K. Sebő in 2015, when he was in his early twenties; versions by Platon Karataev and capsule boy (Cz.K. Sebő’s electronic subproject) followed. The original Cz.K. Sebő song is my favorite of the three; the bareness, simplicity, and vulnerability come together. It comes close to breaking my heart (but doesn’t, because it soars, and also because I’ve been through so much like this). It brings to mind Hamlet’s “But I have that within which passes show, / These but the trappings and the suits of woe.”

But the next two versions (disguises?) bring something out of it that might not be obvious in the original. The Platon Karataev version not only gives it a big sound, not only makes the guitar part richer, but also reveals a vastness that was there all along. This song is about all of us; we are all wearing disguises, all waiting and hoping that someone or other will talk to us and see us. The Platon version also makes me wonder: what is the “this” in “this is just a disguise”? Even the statement may be a disguise. We’re made of disguises upon disguises; what may seem our deepest, most honest revelation may actually be a mask or shroud, or someone else’s favorite clothes.

Then comes the capsule boy remix of the Platon Karataev version: a return to the origin, in a way (in that Cz.K. Sebő and capsule boy are the same person), but with changes. This electronic version brings out both the terror of the first part (“so please look at me… so please talk to me”) and the possibilities of the second part, which here become downright sweet and playful.

This song is beloved by many because it speaks to our yearning to show someone who we really are. But it also plays with this “really.” Do we know who the “real” self is? Is there one?

I believe that there is a real self, but (as hackneyed as this may sound), to find it we also have to lose it, and it is not discrete but porous, blurry, unbounded. One of my favorite moments of the song is “I am full of yellowness ’cause i was never enough.” The very word “yellowness” is a disguise, because the stress (on the “o”) is different from what I would expect in English. But I love that pronunciation and stress–it sounds like “lowness” and makes a connection between “yellow” and “low.”

I have felt throughout my life that “this is just a disguise,” not because I put on a front, but rather because attention is in short supply. The exceptions are times like now: in the preparations for the Shakespeare festival, it really doesn’t matter what people think of me, as something else is at stake involving many people. We will all be in disguises of many sorts, but through this, we will play ourselves. The disguises enable the release.

“Disguise” is not the most Shakespearean song in the Platon Karataev/Cz.K. Sebő repertoire, but it evokes Shakespeare for me and has been on my mind and in my ears. Platon songs with a more direct Shakespeare connection include “Lady Macbeth” and “Aphelion” (at times I hear “aphelion” as “Ophelia” in disguise; in any case, the song evokes Hamlet strongly) but there are others with subtle allusions and influences—for instance (I think), “Most magamba,” “Litmus Heart,” “Bitter Steps,” and “Light Trap.”

I am moved by my students’ dedication to the project; they have shown openness, excitement, and true attention. One of the challenges, early on, lay in slowing things down: having the opening processional and the later pavane dance be truly slow. Tempo is a disguise in its own right: fast things disguise themselves as slow, present as future, and vice versa. Hamlet says, “There is special providence in the fall of sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all. Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows aught, what is’t to leave betimes? Let be.”

Speaking of Platon Karataev, Gergely Balla sent us a wonderful message about the festival:

“Shakespeare drámái az eddigi Platon Karataev szövegekre is hatottak és ez valószínűleg így lesz a jövőben is. Fontosnak tartom a szolnoki Varga Katalin Gimnázium, valamint a Verseghy Könyvtár közös kezdeményezését, mert újra és újra vizsgálnunk kell, hogy mit tudunk meríteni ezekből a művekből. Változatosnak és izgalmasnak ígérkezik a program, mely pont egybeesik két új Poket kiadással (Hamlet, Rómeó és Júlia). Szóval jó fesztivált kivánunk!”


“Shakespeare’s plays have influenced Platon Karataev’s lyrics up to this point and probably will continue to do so. I consider the joint initiative of Katalin Varga High School and the Verseghy Library important, because again and again we must consider what we can draw from these works. The program looks varied and exciting, and it coincides with two new Poket releases (Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet). We wish you a good festival!

I added a lot to this piece after posting it.

The Serious Fun of Galaxisok

When I go to shows, it isn’t primarily for “szórakozás” (“entertainment”); it’s for the absorption in the music and the chance to hear it at that particular place and time, in that particular way. But fun and seriousness often go together, though the combinations differ and the definitions shift. Last night I went to hear Galaxisok at Gólya, one of my favorite Budapest clubs, and had a great time in an excited room.

This was their long-awaited, sold-out record release show for Minket ne szeress! When I first started listening to this album, it seemed like a break from their previous work. But last night, with the audience singing along in full voice to almost every song, it had already become classic Galaxisok fare, however you might define that. They opened with “Nem tudom medvédeni magam,” and the rest of the show was filled with favorites old and new. There songs are full of musical play and subtlety, dreaminess, literary allusions and imagination, film-like qualities, and more, but at the shows you can feel joyous just seeing Benedek Szabó dance as he sings, seeing the whole band so committed to each beat of each song. One of my very favorites from the evening was “Láthatatlan lovak” (at times my favorite of all the Galaxisok songs); another was “Vissza a természetbe!” from the new album. And then there were the songs that make you dance willy-nilly, such as “Mondo Bizarro” and “Levelek máshonnan,” both of which have more to them than the fun alone. Sometimes I wished the audience weren’t singing so loudly, but I was part of the problem, and happily so.

The opening band, Denevér, drew us in right away: at first they struck me as a cross between Bruce Springsteen and My Bloody Valentine (driving, soulful pop rock and swirls of sound and rhythm), but as their set progressed, I lost those comparisons and enjoyed their uniqueness—the energy, beauty, idiosyncrasy. They are a duo (bassist and guitarist/singer) with a drum machine; the songs are in English and Spanish (and I think there were a couple in Hungarian, though I might be wrong—I couldn’t always hear the lyrics). Their latest release, “Estorbas,” came out just the day before yesterday. It was one of my favorites, so I include it here.

This concert was (and will be) my only trip out of Szolnok during our short spring break. I would have gone to Budapest in the morning to lead a service, but we learned the night before that Bálint Ház was closed that day, so we held it online—which worked out well in the end, and I headed off to Budapest late in the afternoon.

Speaking of shows, I have been meaning to mention how beautiful the Cappuccino projekt record release was, in the library of the Magyar Zene Háza on March 30. These reflective, tuneful, rocking songs, the gorgeous sound of the band (Dávid Korándi, Zita Csordás, Gallus Balogh, and Donát Kelecsényi), the story arc and mood of the album, the hushed, seated audience, all of this made the evening stand out in the moment and in my memory afterward. It was not an easy time for them: ailing cats, back pain, and other things were pressing on various band members. But the concert was able to absorb this and everything else going on, including my own happenings: tiredness, worries, work.

Back to fun and seriousness: they are misleading words, because the two have so much to do with each other. The word “fun” once referred to cheats and tricks, whereas “serious” originally meant “arranged in sequence, continuous.” But music, no matter what its mood or character, has both sequence and trickery. The sequential aspect needs no explanation; as for the trickery, a song may end before you expect it, or take an unexpected direction; its music may seem lighter than its lyrics or vice versa; it may break from one of its patterns along the way; it may hide a secret;and even when you know the song so well that you know where it’s going, the musician might change a word or a note, or add something to the ending, or play it a little slower or faster than you are used to hearing it. That’s part of the excitement of a live concert: you know and don’t know what you’re going to hear. The trickery may not even be intentional; it’s inherent in playing.

I have been pulling back a little from going to concerts, because there is so much else that I need to do, and the trips to Budapest and back are hard to mix with a busy schedule. These recent ones—Galaxisok and Denevér, Platon Karatev and The Devil’s Trade (in Prague), and Cappuccino Projekt (as well as a few others in March and before)—gave me much more than they took. This may still seem like a lot of concerts, but there were many I missed.

Spring break is running out, and Tuesday (the last day of it) will be busy, with errands in the morning (stores and businesses were closed Friday and today, and will be closed tomorrow too) and a drama/music rehearsal in the afternoon. I am nervous and excited about the Shakespeare festival on April 24 and want to pull it off well. I am one of the main organizers, along with colleagues at the Verseghy public library, and am also directing a large student group, who will be performing a scene from Romeo and Juliet and holding a Renaissance dance workshop. At the festival itself, I will welcome the various groups, give an introductory speech in Hungarian, play cello, direct the performance/workshop, and take part in the whole day. My students have been enthusiastic, patient, and trusting; I want to be sure to give them enough rehearsal time and enough help with the tiny details, so that they can enter this with confidence and enjoy the day. The program is at least as full as last year’s, with five student groups from four cities (Szolnok, Tiszafüred, Karcag, Sárospatak), several concurrent afternoon workshops, and a lecture.

Anyway, it’s 7:47 in the evening, the day has fled, and my cats are enjoying the sounds of birds through the window. Here’s a photo I took of the Gólya last night; I have taken pictures of this stairway before, but this one came out better than the others.

Afterthought: I have been trying to describe to myself the mood and emotion of the Cappuccino projekt album. Then this morning I read Cavafy’s “The God Abandons Antony.” To me it hints at something similar, even though the “exquisite music” of Cavafy’s poem (quoted in full below) seems to have little in common with the locust-ravaged world of Az utak kifürkészhetetlenül rögösek.

Constantinos P. Cavafy: “The God Abandons Antony”

When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive – don’t mourn them uselessly:
as one long prepared, and full of courage,
say goodbye to her, to Alexandria who is leaving.
Above all, don’t fool yourself, don’t say
it was a dream, your ears deceived you:
don’t degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.
As one long prepared, and full of courage,
as is right for you who were given this kind of city,
go firmly to the window
and listen with deep emotion,
but not with the whining, the pleas of a coward;
listen – your final pleasure – to the voices,
to the exquisite music of that strange procession,
and say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.

Translated by E.Keely & P.Sherrard

Following an Instinct, Going to Prague

If I had told anyone that I was going to Prague this weekend—by train, from Szolnok—to hear Platon Karataev and to visit the city for the first time, some would have instantly understood, whereas others would have thought it (and maybe me) a bit nuts. But I realized I could afford it (for one thing, a fee I will receive this month as a seminar guest speaker equals what I spent on travel and lodging, and for another, my birthday is coming up), and something told me that this was exactly the right thing to do this weekend. The trip itself showed me why. After you read this story, you will see why too. (The trip isn’t over; I still have the morning here.)

Platon Karataev is on a short tour of Warsaw, Kraków, Prague, and Vienna, with the band The Devil’s Trade (whom I heard for the first time last night in Prague and loved—soulful, exhilarating metal folk). The other three concerts were out of reach for me, because of my work schedule, but Prague was possible.

To get to Prague, I had to go to Budapest, then transfer to an international train. I found an inexpensive round-trip itinerary with a reserved window seat for the longer part of the trip. I would need to leave home at five on Saturday morning, catch the 5:25 train out of Szolnok, arrive in Budapest a little before seven, transfer, and depart for Prague at 7:29. This would bring me to Prague a little before three in the afternoon; there would be several hours for exploring before the concert, and then the next day I could explore all morning before heading back in the early afternoon, returning to Szolnok before eleven in the evening. I figured I could take work with me, though I didn’t know how comfortable it would be to work on the train. (By “work” I mean going over edits to my translations of Tomas Venclova’s poems for a new book in the works—and preparing for Pesach and next Shabbat.)

For lodging, I reserved a self-service apartment in the Mala Strana district, near Petrin Hill, which figures in Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I could walk there (a long walk) from the train station—and from there it would supposedly be only half an hour’s walk to Klub 007 in the Strahov district, where the concert would be. Each walk contained something I wanted to see: the Metronome and Petrin Tower, respectively, as well as views of the city from various heights.

I left my apartment on time, got to the train station on time, got to Budapest by seven, had plenty of time for the transfer, and then found that my seat had a table and there was no one sitting beside or across for me—so I could set up the laptop and work without interruption. It proved restful and productive. I was only distracted by the views through the window and an intriguing situation across the aisle from me.

Two women, I quickly gleaned, were going to Prague as well and were very excited. They looked vaguely familiar; it started to dawn on me that they, too, might be going to hear Platon Karataev, or that this was part of their plan. (This was correct—more about that later.) One was wearing a long black dress; I too had brought a long black dress for the evening. I felt like a spy; at one point they went to the dining car, and a little while later, I went there too, but sat at a distance from them so as not to bother them. I had eggs and coffee and felt on top of the world.

The train ride itself was great fun—like being at my desk all day but with a big window and changing scenes in front of me. We passed through Visegrád (with the prominent castle on the hill), Bratislava (no views of the old city, but lots of highrises), Brno, and many smaller cities and towns. I could take in the Slovak, and later the Czech, countryside: hills, rivers, a field full of deer, forests upon forests. Because of a detour, the train took (I think) an industrial route, so I saw a train carrying loads of new cars, and another one churning what seemed to be cement or gravel. The skies were dramatic with changing clouds, passing rains, and bursts of sun; I had a feeling I would see a rainbow that day, but it didn’t happen during the train ride.

When we arrived in Prague, I bounded off the train and in the general direction of my apartment, through a vast, leafy park that opened up into a view of the city. After a while, I could see the Vltava river down below and the city gleaming on both sides of it, I wended my way south and westward and saw a group of people marching for peace. Immediately after that, I saw the Metronome.

Now comes one of the best parts of the trip. I walked along winding roads, trying to figure out how to get down to the part of the city. It started to rain, and then the sun burst out of the clouds. “Now for a rainbow!” I thought. I looked around and saw it! I started running toward it and pointing, trying to alert others to it. They ignored me and kept on walking. I did get some people to take a picture of me under it, though, and I got a few good shots of it myself.

Finally I made my way down to the city and was entranced by the stone streets, old buildings, and shops, particularly an English language bookstore and a marionette shop.

Once I got to the apartment (spacious and comfortable, on a quiet street), I hurried up, took a shower, and headed up Petrin Hill to the tower. The tower itself was closed for climbing (as of 6 p.m.), so I headed down the hill, toward the club, or at least I thought I was heading toward it. This was where the problems began. The compass on my phone did not always tell the truth, nor did Google Maps tell me my exact location. I asked people how to get to the Strahov district, but if they knew at all, they would point me in contradictory directions, with instructions like, “Follow that road all the way around the hill, around and around, and then turn left.” I would follow the directions only to find myself even farther from the destination. I had thought I would get to the club early, but now the show was about to start; I stopped in a little convenience store, and the woman showed me on her computer that I needed to go up the hill again and around, way around…. I ran with all my might, tried to flag down a car for a ride (was ignored), asked more people directions, got pointed this way and that, saw different times on the different clocks, walked and ran, walked and ran, tears starting to come down, and then, as I approached another winding road, ran into a family. Definitely Czech, definitely familiar with the city. I asked them, “Please tell me how to get to Strahov, I have been told so many different directions, and now I’m late.” The older man said with a grin, “You just follow that winding road, and you will be in Strahov!” He was right; winding and winding around, and then (as someone earlier had said) passing through an apartment complex, I found the place and arrived only a few minutes late (Platon Karataev was playing “Apbelion,” their third song that night).

The show was special to me because it was Platon Karataev, and because it was at a small club with all that goes along with that—a distinctive atmosphere, in this case a dedicated stage and sound crew, but also a sound system that gave a bit of distortion to the songs, bringing back memories of hearing favorite musicians in tiny clubs in San Francisco, the brilliance bursting through the gritty sound. In Hungary, you can no longer hear Platon Karataev in a small club; whether playing as a duo or as a full band, they are so highly respected and draw such a crowd that they get booked at the top venues with superb sound systems, which suit their music well because of its many tones and shades. Only once or twice have I heard them play when the sound system wasn’t up to par. But this little bit of grit in the sound last night was wonderfully bracing. Some of the highlights for me were “Halló mindenség / Aláírhatatlan történelem” (their Vágtázó Halottkémek cover), “Partért kiáltó,” “Nem felelhet,” and the “Ocean/Wolf Throats” finale. The small audience loved the show—and yes, the two women from the train were there! They explained to me afterward that this trip was their gift to each other for their birthdays, which had taken place in January.

I stayed for The Devil’s Trade, of course, not having to rush back to Szolnok for a change. They were amazing. The music was full-hearted and dark, with rich vocal cadences, rhythms, sound (yes, distorted too, but again, that only added to its beauty this time). I bought a CD from them and will be listening to them more. They too are from Hungary; their songs are in both Hungarian and English.

Afterwards I wound my way back around the hill, this time knowing where I was going. The city is both spooky and stunning at night. It wasn’t easy to take night pictures (the lights don’t come out very well), but I took a few.

And here I am after a thick sleep, wrapping this up so that I can spend a few hours walking in the old city, across the river. I’m taking it slow because I walked and ran so much yesterday and because this apartment is so peaceful—but I’ll head out shortly. There will be more to say about today (and more thoughts on yesterday)—but I will add that later, in a separate post. The trip has played out the lines from Platon Karataev’s “Partért kiáltó,” “Ezért a mondatért jöttem, ezert a mondatért, ezért az emberért jöttem, ezért az emberert….” (Translated liberally: “This is the sentence I came here for, this is the sentence here. This is the person I came here for, this is the person here.”) I don’t mean this in the more obvious sense—that I came out to hear them, though that also is true—but rather that there is an encounter that each of us will travel distances for. Maybe it’s an encounter with music. Maybe with a city. Maybe with a person. But in any case, it’s the same, because it’s singular, there’s nothing like it, and the moment it happens it’s gone. And as soon as it’s gone, it is there forever, somewhere in the air.

Right after The Devil’s Trade, Townes Van Zandt’s “Nothin'” came over the loudspeakers. I lingered to listen to it. Without knowing it, I had come for that song, too.

I added a few details and made a few edits to this piece after posting it.

On Preparations and Commitments

Between teaching and serving as Szim Salom’s cantor, I spend a lot of my life in preparations: not so much for lessons (unless there is a lot of grading to do, or unless we are reading a work of literature) as for school performances and Folyosó. The Shakespeare festival preparations have many components: planning the program with Kata at the library, making sure all the logistics are worked out, and (most of all) helping the tenth-graders prepare their scene within a short time (we meet once a week for forty-five minutes). Helping others prepare is much more difficult than preparing myself; I have decades of experience with practicing and know what needs to be done. With my students, I have to plan the details carefully so that we can make good use of the time.

As for Szim Salom, in addition to leading services, I prepare and deliver the Torah cantillation once a month; we have Saturday morning services twice a month, and on the second occasion, others do the Torah reading, without cantillation. I give thought to the services that I lead: any new or alternate melodies that I might introduce, any particular emphasis, any special occasion. Then there are the holidays: for instance, we will be joining with several other synagogues for Purim, and women, including me, will be reading or chanting the the Book of Esther, also known as the Megillah. (I will be chanting Chapters 7 and 8, as well as the last two verses of Chapter 6.) After that, Pesach (Passover) will be right around the corner.

Never mind the preparation that goes into writing, translating, and submitting work for publication: I learned long ago that the more carefully a manuscript is prepared, the more seriously it will be considered, not only because editors are sticklers about font size and such, but because careful preparation implies consideration. They like to know that you have reasons for sending it to them in particular, that you respect their standards, and that your work merits attention.

Although preparations give me mild anxiety (I worry about being underprepared, so I generally go overboard), and although I like to leave ample room for spontaneous and unprepared events, this life of preparations suits me well. I enjoy the immersion, the hours spent with the verses, work of literature, or other matter, and the challenge to come up with solutions. For instance, with the Shakespeare preparations, we ran into a glitch: none of the boys wanted to be Romeo. First I thought we might turn the ball scene into a marionette show, but first of all, that would make it silly, and second, it would take considerable time and money to obtain or make the marionettes, never mind learn how to use them properly. Then I thought of silhouettes. Aha! A silhouette scene is beautiful, and it spares the actors the embarrassment of having to be amorous in front of an audience. The picture to the left is just of our experiment with it; we will refine it later, with brighter light behind the sheet, etc. Before this particular part of the scene, the sheet will figure in one of the ballroom dances. For all of this to work, I have to plan exactly what each person will do. But this also ensures that everyone will have a role of some kind. We will also need back-ups in case someone is sick on the day of the performance. For each detail, there must be at least two people prepared to carry it out.

The difficulty of such preparations is that you don’t always feel up to them. Sometimes I think I have far too much on (and about to be heaped onto) my plate. I haven’t been going on long bike rides lately, partly because there’s so much to prepare for the next day or week. Leading services on Saturday mornings requires leaving my apartment at 7 a.m. to catch a train to Budapest. I continually feel behind with writing and translating. As for teaching, I find joy in it throughout the day but end up quite tired by evening. And what about basic matters, like taking care of my health, my apartment, and Dominó and Sziszi? What about spending time with people? That’s a relative rarity; my days are filled with people, but I don’t often get to converse with friends. I don’t feel lonely in general, but a certain kind of loneliness hits me at times when I misdirect my energy or attention and, as a result, not much comes back.

But you never know, entirely, the effects of your preparations. Two weeks ago, after a Szim Salom service, a woman stopped me as I was heading out the door. “I just want to say, what you are doing now, keep on doing it,” she said. “Keep on doing it even if you get no feedback (visszajelzés) from anyone. You have something that not many people have. I am not talking about musical talent, or a feeling of Jewishness. What comes across is that you are doing this with your full heart and soul.”

This was just what I needed to hear. The funny thing is, I don’t always feel as though I’m doing it with full heart and soul. The feelings don’t always tell the truth, nor do they matter quite as much as we think. That is, there’s a level beyond feelings. Not that feelings don’t matter. They are our guide, much of the time. But they can also mislead, or come in perplexing mixtures. Or else fail to match what others seem to think they should be. Serious commitments have ups and downs; there are times when you feel like doing them and times when you don’t.

There is something beyond feelings, something that keeps us going—or, in some cases, gets us to stop—regardless of whatever emotions happen to be coursing through us. Such emotions deserve attention, but they come and go. I get confused by those personality tests that ask, among other things, whether you make decisions based on reasoning or feelings. I would say both and neither. Some of my most important decisions have come from a kind of intuition (combined with reasoning and feelings). Sometimes I know in my bones that there is something I need to do, or not do.

People often say, “It’s amazing how much you are doing.” But it isn’t. Lots of people do lots of different things, many of them much more actively and prolifically than I. I don’t have to be amazing. I need room to concentrate on what it is I am doing, without worrying about how much or little it is. I also need a break now and then, or maybe more than now and then.

The painting at the top is by Róbert Berény, of his wife Eta Breuer playing the cello. But the curious thing (as Nicole Waldner explains in depth) is that after marrying Róbert, Eta never played cello again. Or rather, in 1939 he convinced her to play, and she agreed—but then played for only fifteen minutes, then threw her cello to the ground and swore she would never play again. Then the war hit, and they went into hiding.

Waldner has many thoughts about what that painting might mean, and why Eta never played again except for that brief burst. I don’t know why Eta didn’t play again, but I know why someone might not. When people ask me “Are you still playing the cello?” or comment, “You used to play so beautifully,” I don’t know how to explain how tangled those questions are. Playing is not just a pastime, and it isn’t just there to please others. You have to spend hours with it—hours that, with a cello, involve awkward posture no matter what you do. Most of the time is spent not sounding beautiful, because you have to work out the awkward spots. Moreover, there are so many sounds a cello can make, rough, sweet, percussive, lilting, dissonant, harmonious. Yes, I do play, but on my own terms, and not for hours a day. I dislike dilettantism and have been tempted to stop playing altogether. But the other day I returned to Art of Flying’s song “Though the Light Seem Small,” for which I played cello, and was deeply moved by it. What an honor to have contributed to this. It’s possible for an instrument to be something other than a hobby (at one end) or a profession (on the other). It’s a question not only of time, but of where you go even within a few minutes, a few seconds. I will end here with the song lyrics and a link to the song itself.

When the bright unspoken light of Winter takes the world
Gathering each solitary day,
All the pages written you won’t need them anymore
Winter comes & Winds us all away
& Winds us all away!

& Though the Light seem small!
Drop by drop drowns us all!

All around a Sacred sound rains sweetness on the World
In the pines & in our minds we lay.
All inventions written you won’t need them anymore,
Winter comes & Winds us all away!
& Winds us all away!

& Though the Light seem small!
Drop by drop drowns us all!

Take the night out of your Eyes & give it to the World,
Take the hinges off the Swollen day!
All the Sacred written you don’t need it anymore.
Winter comes & Winds us all away!
& Winds us all away!
& Winds us all away!

Ten Published Translations of Csenger Kertai’s Poems

About twenty-one months ago, in May 2021, C.K. Sebő released his musical rendition of Csenger Kertai’s poem “Balaton” (in which Kertai reads the poem aloud to Cz.K. Sebő’s accompaniment). I loved it and ordered the poetry collection, which I promptly and slowly read from cover to cover. I had just started reading it when I went to hear Cz.K. Sebő in concert for the first time. A month later, I met Kertai at his poetry reading at the Három Szerb Kávéház. Soon afterward, we started up a correspondence, and the translation project began.

Kertai’s poems are not easy to translate. The language is simple, at times intentionally naive and innocent, but also brooding. Then again, “innocent” is not the right word; the speaker knows all too well of human imperfection and the futility of attempts to be God-like. The poems speak to each other and build something together. Their worldview is both Christian and existentialist, with a focus on everyday matters (that can suddenly become luminous or murky) or on metaphysical events. The “you” in the poems is not fixed; its referent can shift even within a single poem. The translator has to be bold. Hogy nekem jó legyen has received serious and detailed critical praise—not just praise, but reflections and responses. But in English, some of its subtlety can disappear unless the translator recreates it.

Nearly a year later, in March 2022, Kertai was one of the three featured guests in the online Pilinszky event that I hosted with the ALSCW. In October 2022, he presented in my seminar on “Setting Poetry to Music” at the ALSCW Conference at Yale.

By then, I had translated his poetry collection Hogy nekem jó legyen (For My Good); eight of these translations had been published. “Redemption” and “I” appeared (along with a sound recording of Csenger reading the original poems) in the January 2022 issue of Asymptote; “Lake Balaton” and “On Forsakenness” in the March 2022 issue of Literary Imagination; “Constant Slashing” and “Mercy” in the Winter 2022 issue of Literary Matters; and “With Greatest Ease” and “Moon” in the Spring 2022 issue of Modern Poetry in Translation. Then, just yesterday, two more appeared, this time in the online version of The Continental Literary Magazine:Maypole” and the collection’s title poem, “For My Good.”

The full collection will be published in English translation—I am confident of that—but the publisher has yet to be found, and in the meantime I want to tighten some of the unpublished translations. I want this to read and resound so well in English that people will truly read it—because it is so easy (for me and others) not to read something, especially poetry. We have demands on our time and energy, stacks of books (or other items) waiting to be read, and bewilderment over the thousands of books being published around the world every day. Where do you begin? How do you choose? Why should this book take your time and attention?

I am one of the worst in this regard. I don’t come anywhere close to reading all that I want to read. Reading a book, and reading it through, carefully, is a special occasion for me. I can’t read casually and quickly.

So I want the translations to be like the “Balaton” poem and musical rendition—leaving the reader with the knowledge, not just the feeling, that they will read more.

I added a sentence to this piece after posting it.

R.Ring, Galaxisok: Albums of Our Time and Outside It

If there’s any truth pounding upon us, it’s that life is fragile, everything is uncertain, we can’t count on anything being there tomorrow. Anything from abrupt, cataclysmic loss to an unanswered message can hit us at any moment. Covid and other diseases, the war in Ukraine, the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, the extreme storms, and the strange unreality that surrounds us online—all this together makes loss both abstract and intensely personal. Some recent albums take this on without didacticism or dogma. I have talked about Dávid Korándi’s album, one of my favorites so far this year. Two others in this vein of global and personal loss are R.Ring’s War Poems, We Rested and Galaxisok’s Minket ne szeress! (Don’t Love Us!)

R.Ring is the duo project of Kelley Deal (of the Breeders) and Mike Montgomery (of Ampline). I have been listening to Kelley’s music for thirty years. When I first learned of R.Ring and watched their video of their song “Hundred Dollar Heat” (performed at the Texas State Capitol building during SXSW in 2012, I was captivated by the chemistry between them, the glances, the smiles, the sense of friendship, as well as the dreamy song itself. Over the course of many EPs and singles and two full-length albums, they have brought other musicians on board, including Joe Suer on vibraphone, Laura King on drums and Lori Goldston on cello, who play on the new album.

Their music is world-weary, sweet, upfront, and at times downright lovely. R.Ring describes it as “sparse, chaotic, abrasive and lulling, often within the same song”; Sometimes the chaotic and abrasive qualities get too much for me, but I wouldn’t wish them gone. Part of their point, I think, is to make the listener a little uncomfortable.

With War Poems, We Rested, the duo and their fellow musicians have hit something magical, both in the sound and in the searing, large-hearted lyrics that take up addiction and its scars, the craving for ease and relief, the pull toward and away from life, the sweetness and betrayal of sensuality. But there are hidden layers too; the whole album seems to be saying, past the words, look how much there is to be done in the world, look how much we waste, especially in our despair. The final song, “War Poems,” maybe the most beautiful on the album, finds its way into the conscience without words.

And the sound… alternating between bold, resounding rock and dreamy folk, with pauses, resonances, bursts of guitar, intriguing rhythms—for the sound alone, the album calls for many returns.

Galaxisok’s new album, Minket ne szeress! (Don’t Love Us!) surprised me with its brevity, its Everyman-style lyrics, its terrific and subtle sound, and the absence of other qualities that I would associate with Galaxisok. The musicians of Galaxisok are sophisticated and well listened (as well as well read); they draw on influences that many of us have never heard of, from a range of styles and eras (their guitarist, Ákos Günsberger, is also a classical guitarist and composer). To understand a Galaxisok album to the depths, you would have to understand these musical allusions. (Magyar Narancs has a wonderful article about how, on this new album, Galaxisok alludes to 80s pop music without any kind of cheap imitation or nostalgia.) But there’s much to understand, and to come to understand, even if you only know a fraction of their influences.

What surprises me on this album is the persona in the lyrics. On other Galaxisok albums, Benedek Szabó slips in and out of various characters—although they all seem to be him in a way—and tells stories about others too. Here there’s a consistent “I,” and a despondent one. Tongue-tied (yet verbose), bewildered, vaguely desirous, apathetic, astounded, resigned, the speaker of these songs peers at the possible end of the world and can do nothing except say what he feels and sees, if even that. Sometimes a perplexity takes over, as in “Utolsó pillanat” (“Last instant”), one of my favorite songs on the album.

Végre itt a világvége!
Egy fagyit elnyalok,
önfeledten dúdolom
az ismerős dallamot.

Ó, ez nem lehet.
Ó, ki érti ezt?

Ó, ez az utolsó pillanat,
Ó, csak egy másodperc marad,
Ó, ez az utolsó pillanat,
Ó, engedd el magad!

Végre itt a világbéke!
Nem találom a helyem.
Zaklatottan keresem:
valahol itt kell, hogy legyen.
The end of the world is here at last!
I lick an ice cream cone,
obliviously I croon
the familiar melody.

Oh, this can’t be.
Oh, who understands this?

Oh, this is the last instant,
Oh, just a second remains,
Oh, this is the last instant,
Oh, let yourself go!

World peace is here at last!
I can’t find my place.
Vexed, I look for it:
it must be somewhere around here.

The album has temporary relief from the despondency: the brief sensuality of “Tánc” (“Dance”); the brief but relieved return to nature in “Vissza a természetbe!” (“Back to Nature”), another of my favorites on the album, especially for its chords and interplay of instruments; and the rage, albeit helpless, of “Ez a nyár” (“This summer”). But the overall feeling is deliberately bleak and general. Anyone could step into these lyrics and believe them.

I miss the joy, wistfulness, melancholy, playfulness of the earlier Galaxisok song lyrics, but there are reasons why this album is the way it is. The music itself has those qualities and more; it offsets and plays with the lyrics. I will end here with the video of “Ez a nyár,” the first song on the album (released earlier as a single—I have brought it up here before).

After posting this, I added the rest of the lyrics of “Utolsó pillanat” (they can be heard in the song but don’t appear in the lyrics on Bandcamp).

A Bookmarked Thought: Kolibri’s New Album

For weeks I have been meaning to say something about Kolibri’s (Bandi Bognár’s) new album, Nagyon jó, nagyon rossz, nagyon jó (Very Good, Very Bad, Very Good). I was sorry to miss the record release show, which seems to have been terrific. It was sold out; I had bought a ticket long in advance, but I ended up selling it on Ticketswap, just because I needed a weekend at home, not only for rest, but for several projects.

Anyway, the album is bracing, first and foremost because Kolibri has found a new sound since a couple of years ago. That, and the songs are so good, one after another. I will say more about some of them another time. As for the sound: the main vocal line is no longer filled with reverb; it has a drier texture, which allows effects to come and go over the course of the songs. The layering of melodies, instruments, effects is soulful in itself; just listen to my favorite song on the album, “Ablak alatt” (“Under the Window.”

It’s exciting to hear a musician hit home. I love some of his earlier songs (such as “Előszoba“), but this album has a new sort of conviction. It also hits a mood, or combination of moods, that brings out interesting sounds and vice versa: a combination of happiness and sadness, anger and tranquility, observation, exhilaration, yearning, humor. The rhythms go into dance beats at times and then retreat into a solitary freeform. The versatility is not only compelling but natural to the songs; there’s a consistency too, a sense of following a train of thought and feeling.

Hats off to the others involved with the album: producers Makumi Kamau and Bence Csontos; sound engineer Tamás Czirják; mix/master engineer Máriusz Fodor; and any others. More another time.

“And thus I received an answer”

I have often passed by the Evangélikus Múzeum (Lutheran Museum) at Deák Ferenc tér and noticed the letters carved through the wall, but last night the letters glowed with the indoor light, and a particular text stopped me in my tracks. Several times I started to walk onward but came back to it. Part of it reads, “Az emberi bűn mérhetetlensége és Isten szeretetének végtelensége mutatkozott meg számomra ebben az álomban, és így kaptam választ a magam és mások kínzó kérdéseire.” (“The immensity of human sin and the infinity of God’s love were revealed to me in this dream, and thus I received an answer to my own and others’ agonizing questions.”) This is by Gábor Sztehlo, about whom I knew nothing, but who, I learned later, saved two thousand Jewish, Roma, and other lives during World War II.

The text is from his diary Isten kezében (In the Hands of God); a longer quote reads,

Az én számomra olyan volt ez az év, mint valami álom. Álom, amit sírva és nevetve, éhezve és jóllakottan, küszködve és boldogan, bizakodva és reményvesztetten, fázva és melegedve; már mindegy, hogy miképpen, de mégis álmodva éltem át. Szinte öntudatlanul cselekedve azt, amit kellett, a mindennapok feladatait, melyek a tegnapból folytak át a mába és a mából a holnapba, anélkül, hogy a holnapután pontos körvonalait láttam volna. Álom volt, és mégis eleven, húsba vágó valóság. Rossz álomnak is nevezhetem: rossz álom, hogy annyi emberi nyomorúság és aljasság létezhet a földön; de csodálatos álom, hogy Isten nyilvánvaló szeretete akkor sem hagyott el bennünket. Az emberi bűn mérhetetlensége és Isten szeretetének végtelensége mutatkozott meg számomra ebben az álomban, és így kaptam választ a magam és mások kínzó kérdéseire.

In rough translation:

For me, this year was like some sort of dream. A dream that, sobbing and laughing, hungry and full, struggling and happy, trusting and hopeless, freezing and warmed, it doesn’t matter how, I lived out, dreaming. Almost unconsciously doing what was needed, the everyday tasks that flowed from yesterday to today and from today to tomorrow, without seeing the exact contours of the day after tomorrow. It was a dream, and yet a living, flesh-cutting reality. I can also call it a bad dream: a bad dream that so much human misery and meanness can exist on earth; but it is a wonderful dream that God’s obvious love did not leave us even then. The immensity of human sin and the infinity of God’s love were revealed to me in this dream, and thus I received an answer to my own and others’ agonizing questions.

I was on my way to a literary and musical evening at the K11 Kulturális Központ: the poet and fiction writer János Lackfi and the songwriter Gergely Balla (of Platon Karataev) in dialogue of their work. It was delightful, moving, and inspiring The combination of the two, and the connections between their pieces, went far beyond the obvious. I was familiar with the songs, at least from concerts and other literary events; the pieces that Lackfi read were new to me. (He is not entirely unfamiliar to me; his work appears regularly in Eső.) His language is not easy for a foreigner, because it’s full of wordplay, references, different registers of speech—but I am now in a position to approach it. This afternoon I plan to look for his Poket book, which consists of selections from his reader-writer project. He had asked his readers to send him themes, and then he wrote poems (in a wide variety of forms) based on them. Some of the “themes” are intricate anecdotes in themselves.

One of my favorite details of the evening was the way Lackfi swayed with absorption during Balla’s songs. Also, that there was no moderator or mediator, just the two of them. I loved hearing the songs and the way this event brought something new out of them.

Tonight I was planning to go to Kolibri’s record release (for a beautiful, exciting album, about which I will say something soon). But the weather is cold and wet, last night’s event was enough to last me a while, and the thought of a full weekend at home is too tempting, especially since I will be going to Budapest twice next weekend. I have a lot to do, and some resting to do too. The show is sold out, and there’s a long waiting list for tickets on Ticketswap; so I listed my ticket there, and it was gone in a minute.

  • “Setting Poetry to Music,” 2022 ALSCW Conference, Yale University

  • Always Different



    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.


    On April 26, 2016, Diana Senechal delivered her talk "Take Away the Takeaway (Including This One)" at TEDx Upper West Side.

    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.  

    On February 22, 2013, Diana Senechal was interviewed by Leah Wescott, editor-in-chief of The Cronk of Higher Education. Here is the podcast.


    All blog contents are copyright © Diana Senechal. Anything on this blog may be quoted with proper attribution. Comments are welcome.

    On this blog, Take Away the Takeaway, I discuss literature, music, education, and other things. Some of the pieces are satirical and assigned (for clarity) to the satire category.

    When I revise a piece substantially after posting it, I note this at the end. Minor corrections (e.g., of punctuation and spelling) may go unannounced.

    Speaking of imperfection, my other blog, Megfogalmazások, abounds with imperfect Hungarian.

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