Conversations With Buckminster Fuller
In a conversation about our emergence into "world-around humanity," the integrity of the universe and its children, science and self, making enough mistakes to discover what's so, and other thoughts that sing in harmony with the coming holiday season, Buckminster Fuller talks about his approach to "Earthians' critical moment.”
R. Buckminster Fuller has contributed to almost every aspect of life on our planet. He is an inventor and designer whose contribution can be seen most obviously through artifacts such as the geodesic dome, the Dymaxion house and car, and a revolutionary world-mapping system. He coined the term "Spaceship Earth," discovered synergetic mathematics, and is currently Distinguished University Professor at Southern Illinois University and World Fellow in Residence for a consortium of five universities in the eastern United States. His 17 books, including Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, Utopia or Oblivion, I Seem to Be a Verb, and No More Second Hand God, have sold more than 1,000,000 copies and he is writing several more while adding to the 3,000,000 miles he has traveled while sharing his vision.
At 81, he has heard Marshall McLuhan call him "the Leonardo da Vinci of our time" and he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (in 1969). Yet with it all, people tend to call him Bucky.
He has also been called "the planet's friendly genius." Bucky speaks to us not as Americans or Africans or Russians or Chinese but as "Earthians." We really are all together here on this little planet warmed by a little star, and he demonstrates the existence of love in the humanity we share as much by his way of being as by his words.
The essence of Bucky's contribution is not his artifacts, no matter how influential they are. It is the quality of his being, not the gift but the giver. It is Buckminster Fuller himself.
In 1927, he began an experiment to explore "what the little individual could do on behalf of his fellow man," and committed his life to the planet working. It is that commitment to have in the world work, more than any other single aspect of Bucky Fuller that we want to share with you. After just a few minutes with Bucky, it becomes clear that he embodies what Werner Erhard means in saying that the transformed person is the one who takes his or her experience of transformation out into the world.
Bucky predicted that it would be 50 years before the results of his experiment would become evident. Today, near the completion of that 50-year cycle, his exuberance, integrity, and "love of livingry" are as remarkable and as powerful as his scientific achievements. As Werner Erhard remarked after being with him, "Most people think of Bucky as a great intellect. For me, it was his enormous humanity that opened the space to get in touch with that intellect."
Bucky and Werner were introduced by Bucky's grandson, Jaime Snyder, who had taken the est training and felt that a relationship between the two would nurture both. That is what has happened. Werner Erhard asked Bucky to share himself with a group of est graduates and friends last September, and the result was "Conversations with Buckminster Fuller," sponsored by The Werner Erhard (est) Foundation at Town Hall in New York, where Werner Erhard and Jaime were on stage with Bucky Fuller for a day. Bucky accepted Werner's invitation to engage in another day of "Conversations" with him and Jaime in San Francisco and then in Los Angeles and Hawaii.
Wanting to share some of Bucky's vision with you in the holiday season, when you will be hearing many other messages to resonate with his, a small group from The Graduate Review met with him for a brief conversation in mid-October. He had finished a two-day workshop the night before, was just completing a radio interview when we arrived in his hotel room, and had 40 minutes before leaving to catch a plane for Tokyo as part of a round-the-world speaking tour for the U.S. State Department.
Bucky started fast. His words poured out so urgently that we all started off straining to catch every one. That wasn't it, we soon discovered. He was speaking in a clear kind of shorthand. You can miss a word or two, miss part of the story, and still get the man.
Gary Clarke, a member of The Graduate Review group, later made some notes: "A few times in the early stages, questions were asked and his answers were apparently far afield. Until he finished his response. Then everything he'd said fit. As Ron Landsman put it later, Bucky weaves a tapestry for you and it's sometimes not seen or appreciated until the last thread is in place.
"It doesn't take long at all to get Bucky's greatness, his dedication to and love of humankind and his willingness to give 150% of himself to do what he knows must be done to have this planet work. As he spoke, I sensed his urgency and desire to get his vision across, to be certain that his work will be completed whether he's around or not."
On the following page we offer a sense of Bucky and his work — not, certainly, the comprehensive view which he says he could deliver in 43 hours of talk and demonstration, but a view, in his own words, of who he is.