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350 shades of green

The pursuit of green happiness
Forfatter: Bjørn Stærk
Forlag: Humanist forlag (Norge)

Bjørn Strong's systemic criticism is hard to disagree with, but his truths are not necessarily others.

(PS. This article is machine-translated from Norwegian)

With a view from the bicycle seat, the social debater Bjørn Stark leads us through an 350 page hunt for green happiness. From the luggage tray I have had a really nice trip, despite the fact that along the way I thought the trip could have been shorter.

The book's narrative is rooted in the author's subject, who both participates in and views the world, and which, along the way, conveys a stream of thoughts about human happiness, responsibility and way of life. Step by step, the patient reader is led in the direction of an experience fueled by the modern consumer culture and its pursuit of progress and growth. It might be categorized as a phenomenological search for the core of the quality of life?

An open text

We meet a perspective that values ​​the concrete, local and human, with an emphasis on dignity, grassroots power, diversity and sustainability. This series of words of honor can be contrasted with the abstract, global and wide-ranging, characterized by efficiency, technocracy, alignment and boundlessness. The aim of the author is not to shoot down the latter order, but to raise the value of the former. Throughout the book he shows that there are thoughtful thoughts and genuine content in this usage. Thus, Bjørn Sterk joins a green landscape with traces back to the 1800th century. At the same time, he remains firmly rooted in modern urban society. He is therefore a bit skeptical of those who idyllize life in nature, far out of the blue: green happiness can also be found in interaction with the qualities of urban life. There is undoubtedly an estimate of ambiguity in what is written. An opening in several directions, which is reinforced through what appears to be a kind of love / hate relationship with conservatism. I sense this willingness to recognize complexity. In the face of the challenges of our time, we need less slant safety and more acceptance for the ambiguous and complex.

Strongly values ​​the concrete, local and human, with an emphasis on dignity, grassroots power, diversity and sustainability.

Your truth, and mine. After cycling out into the countryside and back to the city, the book's focus is on the consumer society and the tendency to reduce us humans to consumers. System criticism is clear, it is enlightening, and it hits so it feels. Whoever reads the examples that are illuminated without getting angry over the injustice of the world lacks empathy. At the same time, Strong announces that this is not a simple field. The system is maintained not only by capitalists, but also by governments that do not intervene – and by us, consumers, who, through our desire for ever-new and ever-cheaper goods, help legitimize a merciless production system.

In the following chapter, the author seeks to show opportunities to free himself from the consumer role. There are many fine, poignant considerations here – yet the problem of the subjective standpoint becomes clear in this part of the book. From the first-person perspective, one's own experience may appear to be unequivocally true, with the result that the author ignores the possibility that the reader's truth may be another.

Does not always hit

"The less I think as a consumer, the more I think about money," Strong says in the book. I understand what the sentence is trying to say. If you are so caught up in the logic of consumption logic that all the money you earn (or borrow) just disappears, then the time may be ripe to think more about the money, how they are spent, if they can be spent in better ways.

Still, the quoted phrase does not hit this reader. On the contrary, I think little about money, and have never considered setting up budgets or accounting for my spending. Maybe it's because my rebellion against consumer logic came earlier in life than with Bjørn Stark? I was only 18-19 years old when I declared, loud and clear, that I was going to live my life so that money was never the most important thing. That vision was realized through low consumption. This is how I have learned that deciding to need less is a source of freedom.

What I'm saying here is about the same as the author of the book would like. Still, his wording is not my truth. By looking at this as specifically as in this example, I better understand why I feel resistance elsewhere in the book – here and there I doubt that what is being said will hit everyone. This is most evident in reflections on morals and values, where at times too rapid leaps from one's own thoughts to general truths are made. However, this criticism must not be overstated: Although I ask my counter-questions, they cannot shade all the knowledge and willingness to carry the book from start to finish. There is no doubt that the author is a wise man, who has the ability to invite us into a reflective space where both our values ​​and actions are challenged in an important way.

Seamless – and dense

The pursuit of green happiness is a word-rich text that, with its constantly new twists, creates nuances and encourages thoughts – yet it could have been tightened. The fact that the chapters are 50-60 pages, with no separate sub-chapters, makes clear the point. It is impressive how the text flows seamlessly from theme to theme, but reading would be less exhausting and easier to memorize if sub-chapters had offered us regular breaks. I now got through the book anyway, and can therefore state that its message is important, produced through a good and easy-to-read language, where both single sequences and the whole give a lot of good input to the thought.

Svein Hammer
Hammer is a dr.polit. in sociology and regular reviewer in Ny Tid.

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