The classic Buckminster Fuller book ‘Spaceship Handbook’ was originally published in 1968, but insights and wisdom are far more important and critical than they were then. Unfortunately, Fuller’s work was and still is difficult to understand.
He wasn’t a great communicator. He was a genius in thinking, inspiring and taking action, but his ideas often posed a challenge to digest and follow them. Even the thin book ‘Spaceship User Manual’ (about 120 small pages) is not what people perceive as light reading.
For this reason, I feel inspired by the Bucky Spirit to publish OMFSE one or two paragraphs at a time in this column. Each of these short fragments will be followed by my perception / interpretation of Bucky’s thoughts. That said, this is chapter 1, paragraph 1.
Chapter 1 – Comprehensive Perspectives
“I AM ENTHUSIASTIC EXTRAORDINARY HUMANITY AND VERY PREVIOUSLY. IF YOU ARE AT SHIPWRECK AND ALL THE BOATS HAVE BECOME, THE MOST PIANO TOP BUOYANT IS ABOUT MAINTAINING YOUR LIFTING, WHICH SOON BECOMES FORTUITOUS LIFE PRESERVER. BUT DON’T SAY THAT THE BEST WAY TO DESIGN A LIFE SCREENER IS IN THE FORM OF A PIANO TOP.
I THINK WE ARE TAKING ADDRESS TO THE GREAT GREAT PIANO MOUNT, TAKING IN EARLY CASES AS MEANS OF SOLVING THE PROBLEMS ONLY. OUR BRAINS ARE ONLY WITH EXPERIENCES IN SPECIAL CASES. ONLY OUR MINDS CAN DISCOVER THE GENERAL PRINCIPLES OPERATING WITHOUT EXCEPTION, IN ANY AND EVERY CASE OF SPECIAL EXPERIENCE WHICH, IF DETECTED AND MASTERED, LET THEM KNOW EVERYONE.
It’s amazing that we still use yesterday’s “pianos”, trying to save our lives and keep us afloat when we have new solutions and projects at our disposal. We have technology to make cars that are not fossil fueled or at least exceed 100 miles per gallon, but we still rely on outdated technology. Our planet is bombarded with an abundance of solar energy that we could easily use through wind, tides, solar panels, passive solar, etc. Still, we are destroying our tiny, fragile Earth in space in search of increasingly difficult to find fossil fuels.
As Bucky predicted, we have technology to create a “world that works for everyone,” but we need to change our resources and our view so that we can solve problems in a different way. We can’t wait any longer until the last moment to make changes because, as Bucky said, we humans are in the final study to see if it is worth inventing the universe’s invention. In other words, will we be able to fulfill our mission and live as a sustainable society on Earth?
When considering this problem, Bucky often distinguished between the brain and mind. He taught that brains cope only in special cases (i.e. Experiments that have a unique beginning and end and are not related to other experiences or things). The mind “connects the dots” between these special case experiences to discover the universal generalized principles that govern everything in the Universe.
The best way to understand such principles is to survive them. We can be instructed about them again and again, but until we get a unique personal experience, they are not grounded in our existence. We don’t really know this principle without personal experience.
For example, we could teach small children about the generalized principle of gravity, but the child really learns when she or he tries to stand and walk. Going through the process of full experience of gravity gives man much more wisdom than a formal “science” could achieve.
That’s what Bucky said when he talked about detecting and mastering such principles to get the advantage of knowledge in all special cases. If each of us did not fully know gravity, humanity would never understand and use the simple power of leaving or complex technology that allows an airplane to fly.
And so each of them must strive for ever greater clarity about the power of our minds to discover and use the general principles of Nature. That’s what Bucky did for most of his life, and this is the key to our successful operation on the planet he called Spaceship Earth.
May we all recognize the true nature and power of our minds to support the well-being of all beings today and forever.