First published in JOURNAL ONE, April 1996

RBF Jitterbug
          (animated gif by Richard Hawkins)
by Antares

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)

© Antares (Kit Leee) 2001