We explore both the lyrical and ethical heart of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring as we ask what are the ecological and moral effects of the banal and continued daily use of chemical pesticides in our Earthly Garden.
In this episode of The Custom House we speak with Lisa Sideris, Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University and Christoph Irmscher, Provost Professor of English at Indiana University, about the ways Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring examines issues of authority and expertise and the drive to control nature through applied science as an abdication of our moral responsibility to life. This is the Faustian bargain struck in an attempt to control nature that Carson sets against the “simple looking” of the observer in nature in a mood of humility wonder.
The extended cut includes two more selections from Carson that the guests discuss and explicate with Doug. Also, we end the podcast with the opening of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major in tribute to Carson. Lisa Sideris shared this bit of a letter that Carson wrote upon completing Silent Spring: “I took Jeffy into the study and played the Beethoven Violin Concerto, one of my favorites, you know. And suddenly, the tensions of 4 years were broken and I got down and put my arms around Jeffy and let the tears come.”
(Jeffy is her cat.)