Why Buckminster Fuller is Worthy of Hero-Worship.

Via on Jan 2, 2011

“I’m not trying to imitate nature; I’m trying to find the pencil she’s using.” ~ R. Buckminster Fuller

Buckminster Fuller is one of my favorite public figures of all time.

I first learned about him at age 14 from another of my heroes, my high school teacher Mr. Long, in a class called “Avant-garde Theater and Architecture.” I fell in love with Bucky’s various eccentricities by way of Mr. Long’s anecdotal stories.  (Supposedly, Bucky wouldn’t sleep at night, but would take 10 minute naps throughout the day after learning how to go directly into REM sleep—he found sleep to be a waste of time.)

Similarly, I fell in love with the poetic-ness with which Bucky would articulate his philosophies about life and our planet. (“Everybody is an astronaut,” he said, for example, “We all live aboard a beautiful little spaceship called earth.”)

The richness, complexity, and genius of Bucky’s mind and his many inventions are impossible to cover in a single article.  But for starters, he was an early environmental activist, predicting and addressing today’s most pressing problems well before they were acknowledged in popular culture.

Along the lines of environmental activism, two of his many famous inventions were the Dymaxion car (a fuel-efficient car that could fit 12 people) and the Dymaxion house (an efficient, inexpensive, easily assembled home that could be produced with the same factories, laborers, and machinery used to make aircraft during World War II.)

The Dymaxion Car, above.

The Dymaxion house.

Fuller is perhaps best known for popularizing the Geodesic dome, the Spaceship Earth at Epcot in Walt Disney World being a famous example. Found in nature, the 3-dimensional shape forms an efficient, weather-withstanding structure now commonly used in architecture all over the world.

As Bucky described, everything he did was “an experiment to discover what the little, penniless, unknown individual might be able to do effectively on behalf of all humanity.”  Passionate about efficiency and addressing the limited resources of the planet, he continuously found ways to recycle materials while promoting something he called “ephemeralization,” i.e. “doing more with less.”

He was also a great teacher, encouraging inquisitiveness, and even discouraging young people from getting jobs in order to spend more time thinking.  As he said:

We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.

In summary, Bucky was an original and a genius. He was an accurately self-titled “comprehensive, anticipatory design scientist,” so much so that we’re still catching up with him today, nearly 30 years after his death.  To me, he’s one of the few people worthy of hero-worship, in a particularly relevant way now, as planetary awareness finally, though slowly, emerges into mainstream consciousness.

I searched for “Buckminster Fuller” on YouTube and found this CBS Sunday Morning Special that serves as a succinct introduction to Bucky and his work.  Following are videos of his own Geodesic dome home, which he shared with his wife Anne (of 66 years) and footage of his remarkable Dymaxion car.

CBS Sunday Morning Special on Buckminster Fuller:

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Bucky’s Dome Home:

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The Dymaxion Car:

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9 Responses to “Why Buckminster Fuller is Worthy of Hero-Worship.”

  1. elephantjournal says:

    Thanks for this. Have heard his name from folks I admire (like Dave K) for years, but until seeing one of these vids hadn't known really anything about him. Would have made the best Walk the Talk Show guest ever! ~ Waylon

  2. elephantjournal says:

    Via http://www.facebook.com/elephantjournal :

    #
    Shirley P: I hero worship Buckminster Fuller…….he was a true genius and creative soul!!

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    Melissa C: One of my all time heroes!

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    Adenia L: I fell in love with Bucky when I read his quote, "God is a verb." Since that youthful crush began, I've come to admire him for much more than just slogans. It's his geodesic housing that rocks my world today.

    #
    Maggie K: Yes! Ditto to prevIous 2 comments!!!

    #
    Sally D: I love Bucky!

    #
    elephantjournal.com How's a dome home to live in, though? Seems funny/odd. ~ W

    #
    Rosie N: seeing an exhibition of all of his work put me awe about him many years ago…ahead of his time…yes genius in every way

    #
    Sally D: I know one person who was an IBM executive who lived 80 miles away from her job just so she could live in her dome home- she loved it!

    true genius, creative soul, visionary!

    Juliana McCarthy it's my DREAM to live in a dome home. one day…

    #
    Adenia L: Waylon: They have huge number of edges to match up on each panel – hence leaking… that said, I think of them as another generation's yurt. His home, a dome, is near my childhood home.

    #
    Scott H: yes, Bucky is just Ducky.. : )

    I love domes.. I think I could live in one.. in certain configurations.. maybe a couple of small domes or a large one with some subdivided areas.. you can leave the top open and put rooms in the bottom.. one big space is pretty darn open..

  3. Padma Kadag says:

    Don't care for living in a Geodesic dome…but BUckminster Fuller has it right with his philosophy. I was first introduced to him as a High School Senior by my Physics teacher. Einstein and Fuller was the bulk of the class

  4. susan says:

    For the people who wonder how it feels to live in a dome, I can tell you — it's Wonderful! I grew up in one — my father built it — and it shaped my life immeasurably (in the very best ways.) When you grow up in a round house, you don't have to prove you're different. When your house looks like an igloo or a spaceship, you get a subtle education about rules, that they are made to be considered but not adopted blindly. I think it's healthy not to have a "right angle" viewpoint about the world, too. Friends who can't handle it just don't get invited back very often. Everybody's odd in their own way, but living in an unconventional house is a terrific way to come to peace with your oddness. And by the way, I can testify that it did not leak, thank to the outer covering — my hometown gets a ton of rain.

  5. A great little article and a nice reminder of the quote about not working for a living. I adopted many of Bucky's disciplines decades ago, and they do work – if not always the way I thought that they would. Moreover, after I wrote my book "Buckminster Fuller's Universe" and began teaching on Bucky's life and wisdom, I finally got that he was, in fact, a bodhisattva. That's the underlying foundation of my next Bucky Fuller book (the publisher says we can have it out in Fall of 2011) as well as many of the articles I write on Examiner.com

  6. Jessseee says:

    whoa great article. feel the same way – also live in Boulder and have almost all his books if you ever wanna borrow …. synergy is creating through combining…

  7. [...] a woman who has spent years studying with the likes of Joseph Campbell, Margaret Mead, and Buckminster Fuller, and right now, here she is, taking the time to “see” me. Taking the time to listen to [...]

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