Political Theory 45 (5):682-704 (2017)

This essay argues for reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring as a work of love that calls for an environmental politics of desire rather than self-preservation narrowly construed. I make this argument by reading Silent Spring in conjunction with the extant love letters of Carson and Dorothy Freeman, where they depict their love as a wondrous multispecies achievement constituted through encounters with birds. I argue that their example reveals that love need be neither worldless nor heteronormative, but may be a world-disclosing practice that leads individuals to live, and desire to live, differently. Reading Silent Spring through the lens of these letters, I argue that it calls us to see the threat insecticides pose not only to “mere life” but also to pleasurable lives of wonder and love. I build on Silent Spring to argue for an alternative politics of survival in the face of climate change: one that foregrounds the connections between inter-human affects and a vibrant multispecies world, between intimate and public feelings, and calls for preservation of a multispecies world through and on behalf of human pleasure.
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DOI 10.1177/0090591717712024
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