Henry Bugbee is perhaps the closest to Henry David Thoreau that I have encountered in my readings in terms of resonance. I see and feel Thoreau in him without him even trying to copy Thoreau’s writing (unlike what Annie Dillard did). His life is what is most Thoreauvian.
He was committed to a philosophical-spiritual life. Philosophy for him was an exploration of his life in the context of other lives in nature. Living philosophically was more important to him than professional prominence. While he didn’t write exactly like Thoreau, his writings were lyrical. He was an active participant in his writings (Lyrical philosophy). In some ways, he even overtaked Thoreau, particularly in the contest of who wrote lesser.
# Bugbee wrote little because his life was his masterpiece
While Thoreau only published two books, he wrote prolific journal entries in private. Bugbee wrote very little both in public and in private.
Bugbee’s daily writing, as exemplified in The Inward Morning — Bugbee, is succinct. If I understood The philosophical method of Henry Bugbee, what he wrote in his journal each day was all the writing he did that day. It looks lazy. But it does mirrors a poet’s life. A poet doesn’t have to force word counts. Bugbee, it seems, spent more time outdoors than indoors, writing. He did read a lot but he was outdoors, making himself useful while opening himself up for revelation.
This reflects the fact that his life was truly his masterpiece. It was his experiences in private that he cherished and he was the only witness.
This point is interesting to me. Is living a wonderful life not enough? Do we still need to write about it? Why does he world need to know?
While he wrote a little, Bugbee still wrote, which meant he found something worthwhile in sharing his thoughts.