Jan 23, 2012

R. Buckminster Fuller - Carousel - Blog

"... Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you're a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you're nobody-but-yourself ..."

The above is an excerpt from a poem that changed the life of R. Buckminster Fuller forever. Aged thirty-two, he made the bold decision to reject everything that he had been taught to believe. He decided that he would, henceforth, reason and act solely on what he had gleaned from his own personal experiences.

/Image courtesy of R. Buckminster Fuller Estate/

I must admit that (until a few days ago) I had never heard of this remarkable man, nor of his ground-breaking philosophies. My husband borrowed Critical Path (possibly one of his last major works) from our local library and was so effusive in his praise of Bucky, as he preferred to be called, that I devoured it greedily whenever he happened to put it down. From the age of twelve, Bucky had painstakingly kept a record of his activities in a book he later named his Chronofile. Years later, (looking back over his letters, programs and doodles) he discovered that he was most positively effective when his own success came at no cost or disadvantage to anyone else.

The loss of an infant daughter, bankruptcy and the birth of another, forced Bucky to rethink his role as a player in the Game of Life. He embarked upon an experiment, using himself as a guinea pig, to see what he could achieve by dedicating his life to the selfless service of all humanity.

Critical Path is, by no means, an easy read. Bucky has a unique and convoluted turn of phrase but in persevering with it, I have unlocked doors in my psyche that may never be closed. Bucky was a man who possessed incredible foresight. In addition to being one of the 20th century's greatest thinkers, he was also a multi-disciplinary doer. He was probably one of the first practitioners of thinking globally and acting locally. Long before it became part and parcel of everyday living, he advocated sustainability and "doing more with less".

I cannot help but be inspired by him as I toil away in my studio at the bottom of my garden. My sincere hope is that I can, in my own small way, improve on what has gone before and stand out from my peers.

One of the many things that struck me about this book was the notion that ideas, much like all systems in nature, have their own unique and intrinsic gestation rates. According to Bucky, providing that one has created (and lived by) their own rules for The Game of Life, one can become attuned to shifts in trends and, therefore, provide anticipatory solutions to a host of problems - a theory he proved himself several times over.

/Image courtesy of Time Magazine/

We, each and every one of us, are capable of providing perfectly timed solutions to the needs of society. Imagine - just for a second, if you will - the possibilities! I feel giddy just thinking about it.

This, of course, requires immensely dogged self-belief and tunnel-vision, regardless of what the rest of the world is doing. In this age of digital and sensory overload, it can often feel as though nothing is new under the sun. Bucky, without doubt, makes me feel otherwise.

" ... To be nobody-but-yourself - in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else - means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting ..." /Quotes by E. E. Cummings/

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