Thanks to everyone for last week's thoughtful comments about the relationship between Rachel Carson's historical moment and ours. There was a general sense that certain basic cultural and political conflicts remain the same today as in her lifetime. But some contributors also suggest that, in the debate over contemporary challenges like climate change, many people now are in fact less deferential toward the insights of science. Erroneous, and ideologically based, "facts" can certainly take on a life of their own in the era of the world-wide web and the Internet. One conclusion to draw might be that Carson's example of extreme clarity, careful documentation, and almost infinite patience will be more important than ever as we seek to educate policy-makers and the public about pressing scientific realities.
We are now starting a second set of readings from Courage for the Earth, in which our emphasis is on the literary context and influence of Rachel Carson's writing. Jim Lynch's excerpt comes from his acclaimed novel in which the young protagonist is inspired by her work; it is complemented by Lynch's commentary on his own writing. Sandra Steingraber responds to Carson in the form of a moving memoir about her father. My piece in this little cluster is an attempt to explore the relationship between Carson's scientific insights and the legacy of Romantic poetry which so inspired her. How, and to what effect, do you find literature and science to be interwoven in Rachel Carson's writing? When looking at our own environmental challenges, do you find literature an important part of the public dialogue that will guide our choices? How do other arts like painting, film, and television contribute?
When first talking with Anne Roy about helping to moderate this week I let her know that I would be traveling abroad to a conference next week. So Deanne Urmy and Anne will be helping to frame the following topics. But I will plan to rejoin this dialogue at the end of the present week and, if possible, to check in while traveling in the latter part of May.
Go to May Reading Schedule
To contribute to the discussion click here or go to "Comments" below. Problems? Email Anne_Roy@fws.gov or Nancy_Pollot@fws.gov