The Custom House Discusses “Silent Spring”

August 13, 2013

On July 13,  Douglas Storm at The Custom House sat down with Christoph Irmscher and Rachel Sideris, both professors at the Indiana University, to discuss Rachel Carson’s epic book, Silent Spring.Screen shot 2013-08-13 at 11.02.04 AM
“Carson’s legacy is still embattled,” Irmscher explained, “from pseudo-scientific attacks in the conservative press to entire websites directly blaming her for the death of African children.  One of the special features of the show is that we go back to the book itself, reminding readers of what Carson, one of the greatest American thinkers and writers, actually wrote.”
The hour-long show, titled “On the Banality of Pest Control,” explores both the lyrical and ethical heart of Carson’s book by asking what the ecological and moral effects of chemical pesticide use are.
Lisa Sideris, Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University and Christoph Irmscher, Provost Professor of English at Indiana University, speak 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.
Listen to the entire show here.

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