Silent Spring – Chapter One: effective or manipulative?

A 2012 discussion of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring."
Book Club Host
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2012 9:29 am

Silent Spring – Chapter One: effective or manipulative?

Post by Book Club Host » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:32 am

What do you think?

donstu
Posts: 63
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:29 am

Re: Silent Spring – Chapter One: effective or manipulative?

Post by donstu » Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:15 pm

A very old saying is: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Once you are making a lot of money on "cures" ... the built in motivation is to continue the problem such that there is demand for the cure.

Laura Tyler
Posts: 28
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2012 11:23 am

Re: Silent Spring – Chapter One: effective or manipulative?

Post by Laura Tyler » Tue Jul 10, 2012 6:26 pm

Interesting, Don. Can you say more about what you mean?

donstu
Posts: 63
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:29 am

Re: Silent Spring – Chapter One: effective or manipulative?

Post by donstu » Wed Jul 11, 2012 6:25 am

There are so many examples, I hardly know where to start. Consider antibiotics as an example.

A chemical kills a bacteria ... some of the bacteria that is. The members of that species left alive have successfully resisted the chemical. They bring those genes to the following generations. Therefore, we continue to see the bacteria, but we are less able to kill it with the chemical. So, we invent the next chemical. Not surprisingly, the next chemical is offered by the same company that offered the first one, perhaps at an even higher price. And the cycle continues. It's originally motivated by the false perception that the chemical is adding goodness to our lives. For some reason, we decide that natures natural defenses / balances are not adequate. All motivation to maintain natural balance / health is lost ... from the perspective of the chemical seller ... because there is no monetary profit in naturally produced balance. Marketing must convenience the public that they would be better off using a chemical to kill bacteria. As soon as the public starts down this path, the natural balance is disturbed. Naturally, the answer to "fix" this imbalance the next chemical. And on it goes.

A further complication is the history. Consider, for example, that many of our pesticides originated during the World Wars. Left over stock of war chemicals could be sold only if we could invent new uses. Let's kill bugs. Everyone wants to kill bugs. We'll make a fortune. ... And they did.

TomTheobald
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:58 am

Re: Silent Spring – Chapter One: effective or manipulative?

Post by TomTheobald » Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:10 am

It is both manipulative and effective. Most writing is manipulative in one way or another. Carson sets the scene and the context, then poses the question she proposes to answer. It;s not very subtle, but works for what she has in store.

Ruth04
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 11:36 am

Re: Silent Spring – Chapter One: effective or manipulative?

Post by Ruth04 » Wed Jul 11, 2012 11:44 am

I think that Rachel does a good job of drawing us all in with the story of the perfect town that killed its own beauty. It is manipulative but it makes me want to know more about the tragedies that she speaks of.

Book Club Host
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2012 9:29 am

Re: Silent Spring – Chapter One: effective or manipulative?

Post by Book Club Host » Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:54 pm

Thanks for the thoughts, all. I'm enjoying reading them so keep them coming!

Don, I thought of your comment last night when I was reading Chapter Three. Have you gotten to it yet?

As far as Carson's writing goes, I think the manipulative aspect may have backfired on me as drama and overstatement tend to trip my skepticism button. Wondering if I'd have taken it in differently if I'd read for the first time in 1962 instead of today?

Thinking about cynicism ...

SuzanneMarie
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:27 pm

Re: Silent Spring – Chapter One: effective or manipulative?

Post by SuzanneMarie » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:03 pm

I first read this book in '74.. it set me on a 25 year path of teaching environmental conservation -- I can understand the skepticism response being triggered by the first chapter..but it was a life changing book for me 38 years ago .. Everyone I knew that read the book back then changed the way they lived in fundamental ways- with a primary goal to minimize our damage to the natural world.

I agree with Don's post completly- and gmo's are just the next stage on this chemical dependency road.. and the most insidious ..if we lose our freedom, ability and right to grow our own uncontaminated food we have indeed lost a basic freedom.

DavisChurches
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:45 pm

Re: Silent Spring – Chapter One: effective or manipulative?

Post by DavisChurches » Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:38 pm

I'm thinking about cynicism too...and "healthy" cynicism...
Carson uses language such as: "Man's War Against Nature" and her descriptions of ..."the undoing of the built-in checks and balances by which nature holds the species within bounds" and the "rapidity of change, the speed that follows the impetuous and heedless pace of man - rather than the deliberate pace of nature"...
I love that: Deliberate Pace of Nature
and one of my favorite word she uses:"lingers"
...are you sure she wasn't a beekeeper? How many times have I had to slow my thoughts and actions while tending to the girls and get into the natural time-zone? If I rush and am abrupt - I'm reminded by a few girls who "ping" me about the head...I've experienced the pace of nature with birth and death as well...it's beyond human time.

So back to healthy cynicism - in a 1960's country poised to race to the moon, create modern cities, more is better etc...the new post war "normal" was not Carson's pace either. I feel like we're strolling along with her and a healthy dose of cynicism - and I want to believe that she felt responsible to share this information, to remind us to slow down and discern what is wholesome or not, and help us to be able to make decent choices when we face our own decisions.
Attachments
Kingdom.jpg
Kingdom.jpg (106.59 KiB) Viewed 11084 times

Book Club Host
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2012 9:29 am

Re: Silent Spring – Chapter One: effective or manipulative?

Post by Book Club Host » Tue Jul 17, 2012 9:56 pm

Thanks for the beautiful posts.

Suzanne, I bet I'd have felt exactly the same way had I read Silent Spring in '74. The world has changed much since then, wouldn't you say?

DavisChurches, Beautiful image and thoughts. I, too, love "linger." Carson's writing is gorgeous and I'm warming to the drama of it.

Post Reply