Nils Faarlund is a central figure in the Norwegian outdoor recreation tradition – friluftsliv. Since the middle of the seventies, he has greatly influenced friluftsliv as a pedagogic practice and the development of friluftsliv philosophy. Faarlund’s philosophy was in keeping with the ecocritical ideologies that shaped much of the 60s and 70s in Norway. Faarlunds life-long mission has been to win supporters for pristine nature. Arne Næss is another noted Norwegian thinker and promoter of the simple friluftsliv that influenced Faarlund. The ecocentric values Faarlund attributes to friluftsliv are central to NaChiLitCul’s study of children’s culture and nature.
In this book, Faarlund shares his experiences working with friluftsliv and he argues his points using practical examples. He comments on the commercialization of friluftsliv and hopes to inspire readers to find their own path in nature. He criticizes much of the modern focus on equipment and fashion in friluftsliv and advocates that one live more simply in tune with nature. He elaborates on what friluftsliv is for him and argues for a return to this deeper connection with nature.
Faarlund argues that friluftsliv is a way for culture and nature to meet: “Nature is culture’s home, Friluftsliv is a way home” (Chap. 4). He talks about meeting nature and to be met by nature. This is a view that Faarlund contrasts to the modern society’s overuse of nature as a resource. As a society we are moving away from the simple life in tune with nature. Our dependence on digital gadgets and petroleum-based clothing is a way of distancing ourselves from nature. In Faarlund’s writing, nature is something that we meet as an old friend. His attitude to nature in his text shows this through wordings such as Nature awareness (naturkjennskap), nature meetings (naturmøter) and free nature (fri natur).
In the chapter about the clothing and equipment needed in friluftsliv, he advocates the simple and natural options. Wool and cotton rather than synthetics, and alcohol-burning stoves rather than petrol and gas. In this, he expresses an ecocentric, culture-critical view of friluftsliv. This view is explicitly expressed in Chapter 14, where Faarlund provides a list of what to pack for outdoor activities in summer and winter. While the chapter is little more than a list of the clothing and equipment needed, the title A nature friendly packing list illustrates how his philosophy of friluftsliv is highlighted in the text. Even in this listed form, he manages to promote natural materials and traditional solutions over synthetics and what he considers commercialised.
In this book, Faarlund’s aim is to give some insight into the skills and knowledge needed in friluftsliv. The mantra of travel according to ability (ferdsel etter evne) is at the foundation of the instrumental part of the book. But at the same time, Faarlund’s ecocentric values and philosophy are evident both explicitly and implicitly. As a reader and lover of friluftsliv, I find myself questioning my ecological footprint in my meetings with nature. Are we, as modern friluftsliv people, doing more harm than good, even while engaging in friluftsliv?
Tom Lund, 19.03.2018