INDIGNITY VOL. 3, No. 17: Caring and sharing.


INDIGNITY VOL. 3, No. 17: Caring and sharing.

The Indignity Morning Podcast

WE THINK WE’VE managed to add The Indignity Morning Podcast to the Apple Podcast thing, so look for it there and you won’t have to look for it here, unless you would like to have it emailed to you separately and earlier in the day. The choice is all yours. More info below. Meanwhile, The Indignity Morning Podcast is now available via the Apple and Spotify platforms. Thank you for reading and maybe also listening!

Indignity Morning Podcast No. 11: Outward from the equator.
Listen now (3 min) | WE THINK WE’VE managed to add The Indignity Morning Podcast to the Apple Podcast thing, so look for it there and you won’t have to look for it here, unless you would like to have it emailed to you separately and earlier in the day. The choice can be all yours. More info below. Thank you for trying to listen!

Have the Indignity Morning Podcast delivered separately to your electronic mail in-box! We don’t add you to the mailing automatically, we want you to be in charge! It’s an “opt-in,” if you will. Head to Manage your subscription, where you can select and choose which sections to receive. More info here.


A Good Essay About an Essay

GOOD MORNING! Last week, the novelist Ottessa Moshfegh published an essay on the Paris Review website, as part of a recently launched essay series called "Home Improvements." Unavoidably, every essay today reaches most of its readers through a frame some other reader has put on it; the context in which I first encountered Moshfegh's piece, "The Smoker," was that someone was defending it on Twitter against the accusation that it was bad writing—that is, I became aware of it as the subject of a reaction to a reaction to it.

I agreed with the essay's defender that "The Smoker" was well written. What struck me, after I read the essay, and as I read back up the chain of negative reactions, was that the people who were angry about the essay or contemptuous toward it had generally, in some vital sense, read the essay correctly. They had identified Moshfegh's theme and, it seemed to me, they were upset about the same things that the essay meant to be upsetting about. They were just somehow estranged from the work of the essay as an essay.

People were classifying it, and lashing out at it, within some other framework: the newspaper story where someone boasts about how to make it thriftily in the big city while living off their parents' financial support; the first-person essayist bragging about how naughty they are. In a world where plenty of terrible writers write terrible articles to flaunt their terrible values, it wasn't an unreasonable reaction.

I was wondering whether or not to write something about "The Smoker," but then the author Summer Brennan—a fellow graduate of the Substack Pro program—did write something about it in her own newsletter, A Writer's Notebook, and it seemed to be a more or less definitive reading of Moshfegh's essay.

Brennan agreed to allow us, with the help of Substack's "cross-posting" feature, to share her thoughts about the essay with you, the readers of Indignity. We will be mailing it to you shortly. (Brennan also wrote a good essay of her own about baby ducks, and we highly recommend it.)

Photo: Kirt Edblom on Flickr cc-by-sa-2.0 via Wikipedia.

AT ONE POINT in yesterday's item about the toxic railroad wreck in East Palestine, Ohio, I wrote "Georgia Pacific" where I meant to write "Norfolk Southern." The Georgia Pacific Railway was, it turns out, absorbed by the Southern Railway in 1894, and the Southern Railway became part of the newly formed Norfolk Southern Railway in 1982. This degree of historical accuracy was strictly accidental; as far as I can tell, I simply had an unconscious mental storage-sector leak between the Norfolk Southern Railway and the Georgia-Pacific paper-products company in the category "Text I've Seen on Freight Containers." Indignity regrets the error.


WE PRESENT INSTRUCTIONS for the assembly of select sandwiches from The Daisy Recipe Book No. 2, Compiled and Arranged by the Daisy Bible Class, Hyatt Avenue United Church, London, Ontario, 1927, found in the public domain and available at for the delectation of all.


Cut bread in 1/4 inch slices, and shape with a fancy cutter. Place one or two small crisp lettuce leaves on one-half the pieces, spread with Russian dressing, cover with remaining pieces of bread, and garnish top of each with one-half pecan nut meat. Arrange on a sandwich plate, covered with a doily, radiating from centre. Garnish at centre with a few crisp lettuce leaves, to represent a flower, and sprigs of parsley.


1/2 teaspoon Knox sparkling gelatine, 3/4 cup mayonnaise dressing, 3 tablespoonfuls chili sauce, 2 tablespoonfuls pimentoes cut in small pieces, 1 tablespoonful tarragon vinegar, 1 teaspoonful chives, cut in very small pieces, 2 teaspoonfuls cold water. Mix first five ingredients and fold in gelatine, soaked in cold water five minutes, dissolved by placing over hot water and chill. This dressing may also be used as a salad to serve on lettuce leaves.

If you decide to prepare and enjoy a sandwich inspired by these offerings, kindly send a picture to us at

INDIGNITY is a general-interest publication for a discerning and self-selected audience. Is it for you? It could be!