Saturday, June 19, 2021

CALL ME TRIMTAB: a brief introduction to Buckminster Fuller

Bucky's grave in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Massachussetts

Richard Buckminster Fuller is best known as the inventor of the geodesic dome. He also introduced concepts like synergy, syntropy, dymaxion, omnidimensionality, regenerative intertransformations and Whole Systems into our vocabulary and developed the World Game in 1961 to encourage us to aim for win-win instead of win-lose scenarios. 

Described as a "genial genius" Fuller was a humble soul who preferred to be addressed simply as Bucky. He described himself as a Comprehensivist - the antidote to overspecialization. He insisted that his epitaph read: CALL ME TRIMTAB. 

During a brief stint in the Navy, Bucky observed that a massive ship could be made to change course through the slightest movement of the trimtab - a tiny flap attached to the rudder which minimized the use of energy to effect maximal change of direction. Bucky saw himself serving as a trimtab, quietly unlearning erroneous beliefs inherited from culture and tradition and imagining a holistic vision of a world that works for everyone - not just a tiny handful at the top of the power pyramid.

Each individual who dares to dream the impossible, to strive for meaning and purpose in his or her own life, ultimately becomes a trimtab, with the potential to alter the evolutionary destiny of an entire species.

Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, perhaps Bucky’s most popular book, was published in 1969. He likened the planet to an ecosystemically designed vessel with everything required for the human crew and passengers to successfully traverse space and time while consciously evolving into planetary and galactic citizens. He noted, however, that Spaceship Earth appeared to have been hijacked by pirates with little understanding of the technical workings and even less of conserving resources. Eternal optimist that he was, Bucky was certain that ultimately common sense would prevail and that even the most recalcitrant among us would choose wisdom (livingry) over folly (killingry).

Close encounters with the remarkable Buckminster Fuller (repost)

[Adapted from a letter to Thomas Schöllhammer, dated 28 February 1986. Mr Schöllhammer, then a student of ‘American Culture’ at Munich University, was writing a dissertation on Buckminster Fuller and had requested a full account of my personal contact with ‘Grandpa’ Bucky.]

I’m not sure how I first heard of R. Buckminster Fuller.

But the first time I saw him was in Kuala Lumpur in 1973 when he gave a talk at the University of Malaya. He was extolling the virtues of non-specialization, which was to me an interesting change from the conventional Jack-of-all-trades doctrine that you can achieve nothing unless you concentrate on a very tiny area. In later life Bucky (as he liked being called) would describe himself as a Comprehensivist.

I was impressed by his awareness of 4-dimensional processes – the only way apparent contradictions can be reconciled and appreciated. It was the first time I had heard the word SYNERGY. He also expressed his belief in “syntropy” – the opposite of entropy. Whereas most scientists speak of “negative entropy” Bucky used the more pro-active term, syntropy: the antidote to pessimism (“things fall apart,” “the heat death of the universe,” “Murphy’s Law,” and so on).

SYNTROPY he defined as Scenario Universe’s counter-tendency towards greater coherence and integrity: the centripetal (returning to Source) counterforce to centrifugal “expanding Universe” theories. Bucky was a visionary who could sense transcendental Meaning and Higher Order beyond the apparent disorder and randomness of physical phenomena. I had no chance to talk with him, as he was hurried off to some official tea party immediately after the lecture.

Fuller poses with his Dymaxion car, circa 1933

In 1975 Bucky was invited to an international conference on “Malaysia in the Year 2000” organized by the Syed Kechik Foundation. Herman Kahn of the Hudson Institute (a research team entrusted with developing futurist ‘scenarios’ for the Pentagon, among other corporate interests in the U.S.) was also there; and so was Prof. Robert Jungk, the famous German sociologist-historian. I managed to get myself invited to the conference and that’s how I finally got to meet Bucky.

U.S. Pavilion at Expo 1967 designed by Buckminster Fuller

He was very approachable, very warm and saintly, radiating a very loving aura – in sharp contrast to Herman Kahn who was hugely aloof and sneering, radiating little warmth. In the two men you could see the polarities of intellectual vision. Kahn was convinced that the planet was in deep trouble and that Malthusian economics dictated Darwinian survival strategies (e.g., he advocated and defended America’s policy of exporting pollution to Third World countries). Fuller, on the other hand, was convinced that Universe is sentient, that Cosmic Intelligence always prevails, and that cooperation, not competition, was the key to real progress. Mentally I called Herman “Fat Hope” and Bucky “Slim Chance.”

Within hours I had decided Bucky would make the ideal grandfather. So when I found him sitting one row behind me at one of the talks, I scribbled my request on a sheaf of conference notes and handed it to him: “Do I have your permission to adopt you as my grandfather?”

Bucky scrawled an unhesitating response: “Indeed you do! It gives me great joy and an increase of responsibility.”

This simple act proved to me that Bucky represented the noblest spirit of humanity, the archetypal Community Elder who has grown beyond tribal concerns and was in effect one of the True Sages of Planet Earth. Such beings are not universally recognized under the military-industrial power structure – but I’m sure that as the Aquarian Age proceeds, they will come into their own.

The general atmosphere at the 1975 conference was pretty much a triumph of Optimism over Pessimism, of human over technocratic values.

Herman Kahn (pictured left) was loudly and repeatedly booed during his address in which he defended the hard-line “realist” approach to problem-solving (that whole pragmatic worldview founded on Original Sin, the contrariness and imperfectibility of Human Nature, and the overall untrustworthiness of the Cosmos; the scientific-materialist paradigm wherein “God” is essentially an abstraction to which political expediency demands payment of lip service, but in private nobody really gives a hoot about “moral authority” or any sense of ethics governing human existence; the Bottom Line being, of course, Economics).

In contrast, Bucky’s talk was very warmly received. Though a fair portion of the audience seemed to have difficulty following his non-linear, multidimensional way of thinking and speaking, Bucky was able to transmit a clear and direct feeling of genuine goodwill and high intelligence. He didn’t refer to notes and could have gone on for hours if there hadn’t been a time limit. I can recall only fragments of what he said, but those few fragments remain vividly imprinted in my mind:

Bucky speculated on the ascendancy of Muscle Power during a particular phase of our prehistory when kings and chiefs were chosen from the warrior caste and Power was equated with the weight of a man’s weapon. Cerebral individuals were given subordinate rôles as consultants, magicians, healers, and comedians. (“Put this little guy on the payroll, he tells funny jokes.”) These thoughts were neither new nor radical to me as I had covered the same contemplative ground in the course of my personal musings – but it was the first public utterance of these ideas I had encountered, and it served to reaffirm the validity of my own views on social hierarchies and power elites.

Buckminster Fuller's trademark geodesic dome

Bucky came up with another important analogy: that of the honey bee colony which serves a greater design (the propagation of plant species) without actually being aware of its nature-ordained function. To the bee, the whole purpose of existence is simply the gathering of nectar and the defence of its own hive until the next generation is ready to take over the endless cycle.

Dymaxion House (prototype revealed in 1929; redesigned in 1945)

This metaphor (perfectly illustrating precessional effects) was very mind-opening and allowed me to view even the multinational corporations in a more generous light: like the honey bees, most of them haven’t attained the 4-dimensional awareness of their higher function within the planet’s ecology. But, as Bucky pointed out, these Great Pirates (his name for the fortune-hunting, empire-building colonizers who have shaped the course of recent centuries) produced global navigation maps and introduced the concept of a continent- and culture-bridging spherical world through purely selfish, greedy motives. Bucky’s graphic thought processes approach a workable solution for all conflicting tendencies in human and animal behavior. For me, Bucky had successfully performed the alchemical marriage of Heaven and Hell, extending his mentations beyond simplistic “good” and “evil” to an enlightened state of dynamic equilibrium, of reintegration and reciprocity.

Bucky with his wife Anne Hewlitt and their daughter Allegra, circa 1927

Yes, Bucky was indeed a 20th-century Buddha with access to the harmonic overtones of Higher Consciousness. No wonder some "experts" are of the opinion that Fuller went “kind of nuts in his later life.” Bucky’s concepts had transformed into metaconcepts: to comprehend Whole Systems you need to exercise your mind in ever increasing spheres of interest. No way any die-hard academic specialist could ever publicly endorse Bucky’s work. It’s so much easier to protect our own petty interests by playing down or not noticing other people’s greatness.

Allegra Fuller Snyder, Bucky and Anne's only surviving child, visits the Eden Project 
in September 2009

Another very important thing Bucky pointed out was that no true scientist will ever describe anything as a “mistake.” In experimental procedure, all results lead to deeper understanding, whether “positive,” “negative,” or “ambivalent.” I view Bucky as a philosopher-guru using mathematical and technological terminology to express his mystical insights. In this respect he was often misunderstood and dismissed (and, to a certain extent, still is) by mainstream scholars. He was fond of describing himself as a “maverick” – the ox that refuses to run with the herd. In problem-solving it’s often the maverick idea that proves most valuable.

Buckminsterfullerene aka Buckyball - the C60 carbon molecule discovered in 1985

Most important to me was the fact that Bucky Fuller had devoted his life to developing a syntax and a geometrically achievable model of Utopia: a vision I have explored in mystical terms, but which I've found difficult to articulate “objectively.”

Bucky’s work with the miraculous behavior of Whole Systems, Synergetics, Syntropy, Reciprocity, Regenerative Intertransformations, Integrity, and Omnidimensionality put everything mystics had always spoken of in poetic code into clear, technical focus – the same way G.I. Gurdjieff and John C. Lilly made epistemology accessible to empirical investigation. However, don’t take my word for it – read Bucky’s Utopia or Oblivion (Pelican Books, 1968)!

The conference on “Malaysia in the Year 2000” lasted only five days – but I had the chance to have more contact with Bucky between sessions and at meals. The remarkable thing is that there was never much casual talk at these encounters: it was more like a reunion of intimate friends. He would perform childlike exercises on paper napkins, demonstrating how EVOLution derives from EVE and how EVOL is really LOVE spelt backwards.

I wrote a long letter elaborating my ideas on transport systems (from solar buggies to antimatter propulsion to mantra-powered lightships) and handed it to Bucky on the second day of the conference. When we met the next day he gave me a radiant smile and a warm handshake, saying: “It was the best letter I’ve ever received, I was absolutely delighted!”

He asked if I was interested in reading a new poem he’d drafted, something called Complexion 1975. He had only the original copy, so I was required to read it all at one sitting in his hotel room while he very kindly ordered me a glass of milk (perhaps I still looked like a baby to him). Since then I’ve read the published version of Complexion, but it didn’t read like the same document I saw in Bucky’s room. My memory informs me that the original draft was more science-fictionish – written from an extraterrestrial viewpoint. I had the feeling that Bucky was eager to communicate some earthshaking secret – but he apparently changed his mind and all he said to me before we left the room was: “Don’t worry about anything. It’s 99.9 per cent metaphysical!”

I did feel a pervasive sense of “unreality” – as though the view outside his hotel room was a holographic projection. I looked at him for further clarification and he kept smiling beatifically and insisting that the physical reality around us was such a minute section of the electromagnetic spectrum as to be actually quite insignificant.

Around this time, a half-mile or so away, the Japanese Red Army (a leftwing terrorist group) was getting ready to take over the AIA building on Ampang Road and hold 50 people hostage for several days. Mercifully, it all ended without bloodshed soon after the conference. A mere background detail to this account.

I wrote Bucky a few times after that. He would reply personally or get his secretary to send me his latest itinerary. Which is how I got wind of his brief visit to Kuala Lumpur in 1976. I met him at the airport with a gift of his favorite oolong tea and he suggested that I accompany his small entourage to the Hotel Equatorial for dinner.

Our conversation was mainly about John C. Lilly (right) - the multidisciplinary scientist best known for pioneering dolphin intelligence research and the sensory-deprivation tank. Bucky mentioned that he once saved Lilly’s life; he felt that Lilly was far too reckless, doing dangerous things to himself; but he agreed that the man was truly brilliant, if somewhat erratic. Then Bucky handed me some advice that has served me well over the decades:

“Just do what you feel you must do. Do it the best you can and trust that you’ll be looked after. Believe me, it’s true. I’m an old man, and I’m not in the habit of giving irresponsible advice.”

Six months later I quit my job in an advertising agency and have been gainfully unemployed since.

On October 12th 1979, I saw R. Buckminster Fuller for the last time. I’d written to his secretary earlier, saying I’d be passing through Philadelphia and asking if I could visit. The response was swift and warm. I found Bucky in his Market Street office, older and feebler but still as sensitive as ever.

Bucky's 1946 Dymaxion Map showing the relationship of land and ocean areas
The moment he laid eyes on me he said: “I hope you don’t succumb to disappointment. These things take time. Right now we can only try to cushion the impact.” I believe he was referring to my hopes (and his) that Utopian values would spread universally and rapidly, rendering the apocalyptic option unnecessary. This revealed Bucky’s more human dimensions, I felt. He seemed to be expressing his own sense of frustration that the world wasn’t listening to him; that his ideas were still being dismissed as “over-idealistic” or even “crank.” But he was visibly pleased that two groups of students had produced comprehensive reports on energy and food (Energy – Earth and Everyone, edited by Medard Gabel, published by Doubleday; and Ho-Ping: FOOD, also edited by Medard Gabel on behalf of the World Game Group, and published by Doubleday).

Bucky chuckled over the fact that the UN had finally endorsed his work by adopting these encyclopedic studies as standard references. “As to be expected, they don’t seem to be leaping into action,” he lamented. “The merchants are still calling the shots.” He wanted me to have these books – but the advance copies weren’t in yet.

Bucky autographing books for me in his Market Street office in Philadelphia. 
This photo, which I printed myself, has survived three decades of floods, termite invasions,
and several changes of address.

So he wrote the titles for me on the back of an envelope and decided he couldn’t let me leave without a small stack of autographed books. While he was putting his shaky signature on the books, I took a couple of photographs of him – one of which keeps reappearing at the oddest of times from within the pages of my favorite collection of Bucky poems: And It Came To Pass – Not To Stay.

[Bucky was recalled from Spaceship Earth on 1 July 1983, just 36 hours before his wife Anne also made the transition. Herman Kahn, oddly enough, died about a week later. Let's hope being free of all that mass has given him a Fuller perspective on everything.]


ETHICS by R. Buckminster Fuller


[First posted 12 July 2013]

ETHICS ~ by R. Buckminster Fuller

(12 July 1895 ~ 1 July 1983)
IN THE EVOLUTION of political economics
Of the late 20th century
There is an emerging pattern
In which yesterday's virtues
Become today's vices
And vice versa
Vices virtues.

We hope this signals the demise
Of either dollar or gun manipulated
Political puppetry's
Overwhelmment of humanity.

Throughout the past state
Of innate ignorance of the many,
The informed few
Told the uninformed many
What to do
So that the many's coordinated efforts
Could produce most effectively
The objectives of the few.

An omniwell-informed humanity
Does not need to be told
What needs to be done
Nor how to cooperate synergetically;
It does so spontaneously.

History demonstrates without exception
That successful sovereign power seizers
And successfully self-perpetuating,
Supreme physical power holders in general
Will always attempt to divide the opposition
In order to conquer them
And thereafter keep the conquered divided
To keep them conquered.

Controlling the sources
Of production and distribution
The self-advantaging power systems
Keep the conquered divided
By their uncontestable fiat
That the individual's right to live
Must be earned
To the power structure's satisfaction
By performing one of the ruling system's
Myriad of specialized functions.

The top-gun, self-serving power structure
Also claims outright ownership
Of the lives of all those born
Within their sovereignly claimed
Geographical bounds
And can forfeit their citizens' lives
In their official warfaring,
Which of psychological necessity
Is always waged in terms
Of moral rectitude
While covertly protecting and fostering
Their special self-interests.

To keep the conquered
Controllably disintegrated
And fearfully dependent
"They" also foster perpetuation or increase
Of religious, ethnic, linguistic,
And skin-color differentiations
As obvious conditioned-reflex exploitabilities.

Special-interest sovereignty will always
Attempt to monopolize and control
All strategic information (intelligence),
Thus to keep the divided specializing world
Innocently controlled by its propaganda
And dependent exclusively upon its dictum.

Youth has discovered all this
And is countering with comprehensivity and synergy.
Youth will win overwhelmingly
For truth
Is eternally regenerative
In youth.

Youth's love
Embracingly integrates,
Successfully frustrates
And holds together,
Often unwittingly,
All that hate, fear, and selfishness
Attempt to disintegrate.

Copyright 1973 © R. Buckminster Fuller and Saturday Review


“For the first time in history it is now possible to take care of everybody at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. Only ten years ago the ‘more with less’ technology reached the point where this could be done. All humanity now has the option to become enduringly successful.” – R. Buckminster Fuller, 1980

This confident assertion was made in 1980 by the late R. Buckminster Fuller – inventor, architect, engineer, mathematician, poet and cosmologist. As early as 1959, Newsweek reported that Fuller predicted the conquest of poverty by the year 2000.

In 1977, almost twenty years later, the National Academy of Sciences confirmed Fuller’s prediction. Their World Food and Nutrition Study, prepared by 1,500 scientists, concluded:

“If there is the political will in this country and abroad... it should be possible to overcome the worst aspects of widespread hunger and malnutrition within one generation.”

Even with tragedies like Ethiopia and Somalia, it is becoming clear that, as Fuller predicted, we have arrived at the possibility of eliminating hunger and poverty in all the world within our lifetime.

[First posted 12 July 2013]

BUCKYQUOTES from 'Critical Path'

Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983)


Nobody is born a specialist. Every child is born with comprehensive interests, asking the most comprehensively logical and relevant questions. Pointing to the logs burning in the fireplace, one child asked me, "What is fire?" I answered, "Fire is the Sun unwinding from the tree's log. The Earth revolves and the trees revolve as the radiation from the Sun's flame reaches the revolving planet Earth. By photosynthesis the green buds and leaves of the tree convert that Sun radiation into hydrocarbon molecules, which form into the bio-cells of the green, outer, cambium layer of the tree. The tree is a tetrahedron that makes a cone as it revolves. The tree's three tetrahedral roots spread out into the ground to anchor the tree and get water. Each year the new, outer-layer green-tree cone revolves 365 turns, and every year the tree grows its new, tender-green, bio-cell cone layer just under the bark and over the accumulating cones of previous years. Each ring of the many rings of the saw-cut log is one year's Sun-energy impoundment. So the fire is the many-years-of-Sun-flame-winding now unwinding from the tree. When the log fire pop-sparks, it is letting go a very sunny day long ago, and doing so in a hurry." Conventionally educated grown-ups rarely know how to answer such questions. They're all too specialized.


Society likes the idea of a bank as a safekeeping device.  People have always believed that when they put their money in the bank, it stayed there. They had no idea it went out on loan within minutes after it came in. They were completely hoodwinked by the appearance of the banks as safe, fireproof, and robberproof depositories of their earnings. Even today, in the last few years of the twentieth century, people know little more about banks than they did during the 1929 Crash or at the depth of the Depression in 1932, when all they knew was that they had lost their deposits in most of them.


ONLY COSMIC ACCOUNTING accounts for the entirely interdependent electrochemical and ecological relationships of Earth's biological evolution and cosmic intertransformative regeneration in general. Cosmic costing accounts as well for the parts played gravitationally and radiationally in the totality within which our miniscule planet Earth and its miniscule star the Sun are interfunctionally secreted. Cosmic costing makes utterly ludicrous the selfish and fearfully contrived "wealth" games being reverentially played by humanity aboard Earth.

Fortunately, the Sun does not demand payment for all the energy that it delivers by radiation to Earth in the overall cosmic scheme, which is trying to make humanity a success despite our overwhelming ignorance and fear. The stars are trying to tell humanity to awake and prosper and to consciously assume the important cosmic responsibilities for which it was designed. Since realization and fulfillment of that responsibility involve evolutionary discovery by humanity of the cosmic stature of its mind and the inconsequentiality of its muscle, the planting of humans on Earth may not bear fruit... The first manifestation that humanity may make good on this planet will be the serious introduction of cosmic costing into the mainstream deliberations of Earthians.


There are no solids. There are no things. There are only interfering and noninterfering patterns operative in pure principle, and principles are eternal. Principles never contradict principles. Principles can interaccommodate one another only in noninterfering frequency ways. Principles can interaugment one another if frequency is synchronizable.

Acknowledging the mathematically elegant intellectual integrity of eternally regenerative Universe is one way of identifying God.

The synergetic integral of the totality of all principles is God, whose sumtotal behavior in pure principle is beyond our comprehension and is utterly mysterious to us, because as humans - in pure principle - we do not and never will know all the principles.


Our most prominent present local Universe problem is how to wean humanity from metabolic sustenance only by exploiting nature's local Universe energy savings account - energy being locally imported by cosmic evolution design to produce a new star ten billion years hence. How can we convince those in power the world around that we can live handsomely as supplied only by our daily income of cosmic energy? The answer is we can't convince them. Only the cosmic wisdom manifest in inexorable evolution can cope with such matters.


When I was twenty-seven years of age [in 1922] Earthian humanity knew of only one galaxy - our own Milky (Latin: Galactic) Way. A year later astronomer Hubble discovered another galaxy. During the subsequent fifty-seven years, human astronomers and astrophysicists have discovered two billion more galaxies, all doing their galactic acts within the eleven-and-one-half-billion-light-year-radiused sphere of humanity's present limit [1981] of omnidirectional observing.


The would-be exploiters of atomic energy on board our planet Earth will in due course discover there is no way for them to solve atomic-energy-radiation waste-disposal problems save by rocketing it all back into the Sun, where it belongs. Humans will then have to learn how to keep all humans and their ecological support system operating successfully on our vastly adequate daily income of solar atomic energy.

Cosmically acceptable and effective decisions of humanity regarding such matters will not be made by leaders single or plural, political or religious, military or mystic, by coercion or mob psychology.

The effective decisions can only be made by the independently thinking and adequately informed human individuals and their telepathetically intercommunicated wisdom - the wisdom of the majority of all such human individuals - qualifying for continuance in Universe as local cosmic problem-solvers - in love with the truth and in individually spontaneous self-commitment to absolute faith in the wisdom, integrity, and love of God, who seems to wish Earthian humans to survive.

[Compiled in 2001 by Antares Maitreya]

The FULLER Perspective (by Antares Maitreya)

Architect, mathematician, inventor, poet, lecturer and whole-systems thinker, R. Buckminster Fuller was above all a planetary visionary who passionately believed that the human race was on the brink of Utopia or Oblivion.

Best known for his geodesic domes, Dymaxion car, and his concept of synergetics, Bucky (as he preferred to be called) would have celebrated his centennial on July 12, 1995 – but, alas, he was recalled by Mission Headquarters in 1983. Meanwhile, the rest of us on Spaceship Earth continue to waver between warfare and welfare, between “killingry” and “livingry” – when we could so easily focus our attention on regaining for ourselves and for posterity a perfectly functional paradise...

WE HAVE THE WHEREWITHAL to ensure that every single human life on Spaceship Earth is a total success.

That was Buckminster Fuller’s credo and he devoted his adult life to demonstrating how integrity and intelligence must eventually triumph over fear (ignorance/insularity) and greed (scarcity conditioning).

While established “experts” with vested interests dismissed him as a maverick and a crank, Bucky focused on the Big Picture. Aided by legions of bright, earnest university students, Bucky inaugurated the World Game, wherein players unlearn their built-in prejudices, develop trust in reciprocity, and cooperatively design win-win scenarios that will give everyone access to the glorious options awaiting us.

“Forget about Us and Them,” Bucky advised. “Remember it’s all us. Universe is a plural unity.”

At the age of 32 in 1927, Bucky saw himself as a dismal failure. His building business had collapsed, he couldn’t pay the rent, and his domestic reality was in serious crisis. He decided to take his own life. Since he was such a good-for-nothing he would go jump in a lake. But first he would meditate for a few minutes and see if any viable alternative to tragedy would present itself.

Standing in silent despair at the edge of the icy lake, Bucky suddenly heard the voice of his “phantom captain” or Higher Self: “Disengage your thoughts from petty personal problems. Remember your true work on this beautiful planet.”

And so Buckminster Fuller awoke to the cosmic dimensions of his being and his real mission on Earth: to restore a Fuller Perspective (pun fully intended) to a humanity blinded by primordial fears, force of habit, and sloppy thinking.

If we now agree that the Earth isn’t flat, why do we still say the sun rises and sets? We spin in and out of the sun’s sight. The world is spherical, and the surface of all spheres is at the same time concave and convex. Nothing is a fixed asset: everything is in dynamic flux. Reality cannot be grasped: it simply slips through the spaces between your atoms, the vast dimensions within your sub-atomic consciousness. Let go of it and you become Real: for in reality you are a perfect hologram of the One and the All.

These aren’t Bucky’s words (he had a unique syntax and vocabulary which was a miracle of economy and precision, but also made his writings less than transparent to the uninitiated). However, they do provide a glimpse into his essential work in epistemology and teleology. (Pardon me? Well, er… let’s just say “epistemology” and “teleology” are analytical and synthetical approaches to understanding the general principles and patterns underlying all phenomena.)

Bucky was a practitioner of mental weight-lifting. Every day he would raise a larger and larger question for private inspection. By the time he went public with his newfound insights, Bucky was prepared to tackle issues of any apparent size and gravity, including age-old questions like: “So what do we do about human nature?”

The human being is a marvelous, self-teaching, self-correcting, self-regenerating organism, perfectly equipped for survival in any physical and/or metaphysical context. No need to “reform” humans. Instead, let’s re-design our everyday reality so that it brings out the noblest in all of us. [This is a paraphrase, not a quote!]

Having made direct contact with his “phantom captain” (a mystic might call it “Atman” or “Buddha Self” or “Christ” or “Solar Angel”), Bucky soon evolved into a latter-day Pythagoras. (I was going to say Pythagorean but - time being not quite as linear as we’re in the habit of thinking – we might well find Pythagoras on some other sphere describing his philosophy as Buckyan!) Both minds were effective “crossover zones” open to inputs from all directions and disciplines; and each found his spiritual ground in the study of “energetic-synergetic” or “sacred” geometry. Born 25 centuries apart, each arrived at the same realization that provoked Pythagoras to exclaim: “Astonishing! Everything is intelligent!”

Bucky was constantly reminding his lecture audiences that Reality (or the Electromagnetic Spectrum) was 99.99% undetectable to our senses and our measuring instruments. In other words, the world defined by our physical senses occupies less than 0.1% of our full range of options. Yet the Great Unknown is not necessarily unknowable – so long as we’re anchored in the awareness of the interactive, interconnected integrity and unity of the Whole – of which we are each an integral and intimate part, as well as a microcosmic wholeness with an incredible degree of autonomy (Free Will?)

This neo-hermetic perspective was certainly a foreshadowing of the current hologram theory, which is an essential conceptual tool for thinking beyond the third dimension.

On a pragmatic level, Bucky applied his dynamic imagination and Yankee know-how to designing alternative transport, shelter, and socioeconomic systems. Ironically, the only faction that took his work seriously was the military. All their remote installations and bases are today housed in Fuller domes – from the Antarctica to the dark side of the moon.

With the help of a growing network of dedicated young thinkers and doers, Bucky compiled comprehensive inventories of the planet’s food and energy resources and proposed workable alternatives that would make hunger and scarcity merely a bad dream of an infant humanity. With our priorities set right, poverty and injustice will quickly become subjects of purely historical interest. Each free citizen of the planet must be regarded as an invaluable crewmember of Spaceship Earth and given unlimited access to the infinite abundance and wealth which is everyone’s divine inheritance.

What Bucky foresaw was that once the basic needs of individuals have been fulfilled, they will automatically move on to the next level of needs. Therefore, by fulfilling the material needs of all humanity (and Bucky insisted that we do have the technical wherewithal to achieve this; only the ethical and political will to bring it about are lacking), we shall as a species swiftly evolve into spiritual consciousness (though Bucky generally preferred to use the term “metaphysical”).

“I was born far-sighted,” Bucky was fond of quipping, “that’s why I find it easier to think universe rather than me.”

Perhaps some of us were born near-sighted. Not to worry, if you’re one of them, you can take a vacation from Myopia (and the present Dystopia) into Buckminster Fuller’s vision of Utopia simply by following up on the selected bibliography:



Nine Chains to the Moon (J.B. Lippincott, 1938; Doubleday, 1982)

Untitled Epic Poem on the History of Industrialization

Ideas and lntegrities

No More Secondhand God (Southern Illinois University Press, 1963)

Education Automation

Utopia or Oblivion (Pelican, 1968)

Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (Southern Illinois University Press, 1969)

And It Came To Pass - Not To Stay (Macmillan, 1976)

Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking

Critical Path (St. Martin's Press, 1981)

[First published in JOURNAL ONE, April 1996]