The Inward Morning: A Philosophical Exploration in Journal Form

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In emergent togetherness that is wilderness, one finds one is always already responding to the ten-thousand things in a manner that is both reflexive and without remainder.

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And in the fullness of its flow or way, a thing is revealed in its density. As a result, the density Bugbee speaks of here is not fixed, even as it invites the cultivation of stillness, of wuxhi and wuwei, in its presence.


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In wilderness, the density of things exceeds whatever we make of it and them, either in the moment or retrospec- tively. The gift being offered is not simply in regard to a particular qual- ity or characteristic inherent in a thing; rather the creature, the thing, the gift emerges in such a way that the very notion of what is given in that emergence remains empty, unknown, wuxhi.

The gift is limitless in this regard. Or put in another way, the gift is omnirelevant; it leads in all directions. The ten-thousand things arrive impersonally, such that anything that one might require of them in the moment of encountering them is brushed aside. The rain falls upon the garden and falls upon the uncultivated mountainside.

Whether the grain sprouts or the field is inundated by floods, the water emerges fully as water, offering itself in its fullness to all comers. Its generosity exceeds specification. Burrowing its way through my beard, one stung me repeatedly in the chin, each injection of its venom coursing through flesh in hot, pulsing waves.

The world before me went blank.

The Inward Morning: A Philosophical Exploration in Journal Form

I batted at my face, and my whole body moved backward, away from where I finally determined the swarm was emerging. My wits returning to me, I confronted a colony of wasps busily at work on an emerging hive in the old rusty wheelbarrow I had just moved. The yellow jackets were thriv- ing; my lip was swelling. What next was called for? Ecology begins then in a countenancing of the emergence of the ten-thousand things in their own right.

As the discussion above has made clear, being-at-home would begin not in distinction and analysis that would fix the relationships between oneself and the ten-thousand things but in reception and fluency that would remain true to them in their omnirelevance to one another.

Put simply, ecology would begin in a stance of Bugbeean faith, an attitude already committed to rever- ence and generosity in the face of things in their self-soing. In this wise, Bugbee would encourage his reader to wrestle with how in her or his relationships with earthly things, with creatures both human and more-than-human, the renewal of questions that are endemic to embracing a fully human existence—how to live and die well, how to love fully, how to care attentively for a richly varied world, how to nurture warm social relationships—might be received.

Ecological thinking does not distance one from the perennial ques- tions of philosophy but instead renews their relevance and depth. Surely it is here that I must research for the meaning of coming to be and passing away. And in this address a subtle and pecu- liar mode of necessity makes itself felt.

The first moment of ethical and aesthetic life in a Daoist reading of ecological thinking would not be in the promulgation of explicit principles but in the cultivation of mind- fulness, which is to say, of the intensification of attentiveness in increasingly refined modes of openness. We become reflexively mindful of ourselves as rooted in a course of life wherein we become decisively animated — sponsored evocatively in a way underlying our very responsiveness.

But the quickening of responsiveness in question at the same time exerts itself as a quickening and a truing of responsiveness to the beings of the world occupying our manifold concerns. At bottom then, the Daoist identifies listening with sensitivity and responsiveness. Fasting of the mind then can be seen as lowering the sensitivity threshold, so to speak, and thereby brightening the clarity ming with respect to dim, faint, and otherwise insignificant aspects of the environment.

As Proust testifies in The Remembrances of Things Past, the taste of a Madeleine, a sim- ple tea-cake, can recall an entire world of there and then that must be accounted for anew here and now. The ten thousand things, it turns out, have not finished, indeed, are never finished in their emergence. In effect, the sage, as Bugbee would have it, puts her or his memory out of mind, does not store it, and yet the memory persists beyond any conscious manipulation on her or his part in regard to it. Or alterna- tively, one is called upon to be open to the ten-thousand things in the moments in which they emerge, moments that, it turns out, are not endowed with discernible beginnings and endings.

There is no way to close these moments, any more than there is a way to consciously store them. They persist of their own accord in us and among us. Bugbee himself expresses these sentiments when he writes on Friday, August 7: It is as if experience must continue underground for some time before it can emerge as springwater, clear, pure, understood. And reflection is a trying to remember, a digging that is pointless if it be not digging down directly beneath where one stands so that the waters of his life may re-invade the present moment and define the meaning of both.

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For Bugbee the practice most favored in this regard is the simple act of walking. Walking into Natural History While a variety of paths lie open for the Daoist in taking up with the question of how philosophy might be oriented ecologically, the man- ner in which Bugbee invokes nature in the mode of wilderness as bespeaking philosophical truth, particularly in his experience recounted above during his sojourn in the Northern Rockies, is per- haps as good as any place to start.

Ultimately, for Bugbee ecological thought begins not in irony and cri- tique, not in a stance of distancing oneself from the natural world as it is given, but in faith, which is to say, in attentive affirmation of the ten- thousand things as they emerge in their own time and place. In the Bugbeean practice of walking one is called upon to reorient philosophy ecologically through the subtle work of attentiveness to the ten-thousand things, so that fluency is gained in them beyond the purchase offered by the elaboration of theoretical distinctions, no matter how storied, skilled or precise.

A philosophy that would be peripatetic in this manner in turn suggests rich possibilities for how the relationship between natural history and traditional Western philo- sophical discourse might be renewed. In renewing the relationship between philoso- phy and natural history attention needs to be paid to how the latter has at times been at odds with the quickening of responsiveness char- acteristic of Daoist practice. In the past, practitioners of natural his- tory have all too often been the handmaidens and squires of interests and practices that fuel ecological devastation, the at times frenzied collecting of specimens during the colonial expansion of Europe being just one example of this phenomenon.

In the emergence of the new natural historians,60 particularly note- worthy is a recently published collection of essays, The Way of Natural History,61 in which the Daoist cultivation of mindfulness assumes a key role. In the garden, I spied a dragonfly, its transparent wings fully unfolded under the full glare of the noonday sun, resting on the gray surface of a cement pavement stone. The stone, defining a pathway installed to ease my all-too-human passage between plots of raspberry canes and tomato vines, had granted not only right-of-way but also a place of repose to a species of feet, if it can be said a dragonfly possesses feet, quite different than mine.

It, he, she flew away when I came near. And it struck me yet anew — this garden is not mine at all, and I am better for it. John R. Shook Bristol: Thoemmes Continuum, , Bugbee, The Inward Morning, 9.

Welcome to my new art blog for my new website: Inward Morning! Want to hear about the title?

Bugbee, The Inward Morning, Edward N. Bugbee, Inward Morning, Girardot, James Miller, et al. From a book of self-published essays for seminars Bugbee taught in the late seventies at the University of Montana. Mooney Introduction by. Be the first to write a review. Add to Wishlist. Ships in 7 to 10 business days.

Link Either by signing into your account or linking your membership details before your order is placed. Description Product Details Click on the cover image above to read some pages of this book! Industry Reviews ""The Inward Morning" is one of the rare books in American philosophy that give the reader a feeling of what it is like to do philosophy, a picture of a thinker at work.

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