synchronofile

Dymaxion Car Restored

The Dymaxion Car of R. Buckminster Fuller is being restored by the company Crosthwaite and Gardiner.

Dymaxion Car #1 was involved in a fatal accident, restored, and later accidentally destroyed in a fire.  Dymaxion Car #3 was was bought and sold many times (including being bought and sold by Fuller) and disappeared in the 1950s.  It may have been sold as scrap during the US-Korean war.  Two of the three Dymaxion Cars are lost forever.

Dymaxion Car #2 was produced by Fuller, Starling Burgess and the 4D Dymaxion Car factory in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1933.  The company that produced the car collapsed in 1934 and Fuller relinquished the vehicle to his employees in lieu of wages.  It was discovered in California in the 1960s, having been abandoned.  Dymaxion Car #2 was later purchased for the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada USA.  The Museum superficially restored the exterior of Dymaxion Car #2.  In addition to being displayed at the National Automobile Museum, it was displayed at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago in 1973 and the Whitney Museum in New York in 2008. Crosthwaite and Gardiner is now conducting a detailed restoration of the exterior and partial restoration of the interior of Dymaxion Car #2.

Trevor Blake of synchronofile.com has been providing essential research material on the Dymaxion Car to Crosthwaite and Gardiner since February 2009. C&G researcher Phil King wrote: “More and more details are slowly coming out from the archives and from people like yourself, but I must say your information has been the most informative and the most prolific so far. [...] I know I keep saying it but your help has been fantastic and you have made a difference.”

synchronofile.com has been granted the great honor of announcing the restoration of the Dymaxion Car - because our readers are now invited to help in the project.  Can you identify the manufacturer for this component?

These three photographs depict a component of Dymaxion Car #2.  In the US they are called ‘turn signals.’  In the UK they are called ‘indicators.’  It may have been manufactured for a trolley (UK: tram) or a bus.  If you can identify the manufacturer for this component please send your answer to Phil King of Crosthwaite and Gardiner at the address below.  Say synchronofile.com sent you - and watch this space for further announcements…

- Trevor Blake

Trevor Blake is the author of the Buckminster Fuller Bibliography, available at synchronofile.com

Resources:

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Saturday, September 19th, 2009 Uncategorized

Buckminster Fuller, Creationist

According to a 1991 Gallup poll, 5% of all scientists in the United States are creationists. R. Buckminster Fuller was a member of that elite group. All quotes followed by a number in brackets are from Fuller’s book Synergetics.

Fuller claimed Darwin’s theory of evolution was false. Fuller described Darwin’s theory of evolution as “going from simple -> complex; amoeba -> monkey -> man” [229.02] and “survival of only the fittest species (and individuals within species)” [000.108]. Fuller also described Darwin’s theory of evolution as “an illusion that as yet pervades and debilitates elementary education.” [229.02] “My speculative prehistory has assumed (since 1927) Darwin’s evolution of life from the simple to the complex, accomplished through progressive agglomeration of single-cell amoebas, to be in reverse of the facts.” [Critical Path, page 7]

Instead of Darwin’s theory of evolution, Fuller supported a Lamarckian style of creationism (he did not use those terms). Lamarckism is the theory that an organism can pass on characteristics that it acquired during its lifetime to its offspring. Creationism is the theory that humanity was created by God to fulfill a purpose. Fuller claimed that by Lamarckism physical characteristics could be bred into humanity but mental characteristics could only be bred out of humanity. Fuller also claimed it was possible for porpoises and whales had human ancestors who were particularly good swimmers.

It is easy to breed out metaphysical intellection characteristics, leaving a residual concentration of purely physical proclivities and evoluting by further inbreeding from human to monkey. (Witness the millions of dollars society pays for a “prizefight” in which two organisms are each trying to destroy the other’s thinking mechanism. This and other trends disclose that a large segment of humanity is evoluting toward producing the next millennia’s special breed of monkeys). [229.04]

We can comprehend how South Sea-atoll, lagoon-frolicking male and female human swimmers gradually inbred pairs of underwater swimmers who held their breath in their lungs for ever-longer periods, and after many inbreedings of largest lungers and as many outbreedings of general adaptability organic equipment, the progeny evolved into porpoises and later into whales. [Critical Path, pages 8-9]

Darwin was influenced by Lamarckism. After reading Robert Chambers’ 1884 book supporting Lamarckism, Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, Darwin determined to put more care into his work than Chambers had put into his. Lamarckism claimed that animals gradually changed over long periods time, that different species had common ancestors, and that one of the forces that caused change in animals was the environment. But while Darwin claimed that animals unable to adapt to changing environments perished, Lamarckism claimed animals able to adapt flourished. While Darwin claimed the agent of change in animals was random mutation, Lamarckism claimed the agent of change in animals was a drive toward perfection. The fossil record and contemporary observations confirm the theories of Darwin and discredit the theories of Jean Baptiste de Lamarck. In mistaking the non-random survival of random mutations as a drive for perfection (”Evolutingly we always acquire the means to come closer to the truth” [542.06]), Fuller was mistaken.

Whales and porpoises and humans are all mammals. Whales and porpoises have an ancestor that walked on land, as do humans. But the last common ancestor between these sea creatures and one that walked on the land died out fifty four million years ago. Humanity has existed for less than two hundred thousand years. It is not possible that whales and porpoises evolved from humans.

Fuller claimed we could guide Lamarckian change through applying our intellect to problem solving. He claimed humanity exists because the universe wants us to solve problems.

Since experience is finite, it can be stored, studied, directed, and turned with conscious effort to human advantage. This means that evolution pivots on the conscious, selective use of cumulative human experience and not on Darwin’s hypothesis of chance adaptation to survival nor on his assumption of evolution independent of individual will and design. [502.23]

Humans were included in the cosmic system’s design to fulfill critical functions in respect to maintenance of the integrity of eternally regenerative Scenario Universe. To arrive full-blown and functioning in its cosmic role, humanity has been given the capability to inventory its tactical resources progressively and to reorient its functioning from an omniautomated behavior to a progressively more conscious and responsible behavioral pattern.” [ 265.01]

“Principles are entirely and only intellectually discernible. The fundamental generalized mathematical principles govern subjective comprehension and objective realization by man of his conscious participation in evolutionary events of the Universe.” [220.02]

Darwin’s theory of evolution is an explanation for why humans (and all other life forms) exist that does not include a supernatural element. Humanity exists without any particular purpose and without any claim to be special among all other life forms. Fuller disagreed, and in so doing is a creationist. Fuller claimed that humanity exists because an anthropomorphic Universe / cosmic system / God created us. We may have been placed on the Earth by this cosmic integrity Fuller also claimed humanity among all living things exists because we have a function, and that function is problem solving. To reject this destiny is to guarantee that humanity will die out. Fuller claimed humanity was discovering the principles of Universe / God and is therefore able to evolve.

So it could be that human beings, wherever they occur in Universe, may be introduced as a means of coping metaphysically with the most complex kinds of local Universe problems, so that each one of us is where the problem-solving of Universe is being transacted. If we were to think of ourselves as things - as china dolls, as kinds of china dolls that would just get smashed up or would just get worn or eroded away - that wouldn’t be very good thinking. It would be much closer to actual Universe to think of ourselves as an absolutely continuous complex process. We are quite possibly the most complex of the problem-solving challenges of the invention that is eternally regenerative Scenario Universe. In this way each of us might be a department of the mind of what we might call god. [311.14]

Generalized design-science exploration is concerned with discovery and use by human mind of complex aggregates of generalized principles in specific-longevity, special-case innovations designed to induce humanity’s consciously competent participation in local evolutionary transformation events invoking the conscious comprehension by ever-increasing proportions of humanity of the cosmically unique functioning of humans in the generalized design scheme of Universe. [165.00]

Science must be seen as a tool of fundamental advantage for all, which Universe requires that man understand and use exclusively for the positive advantage of all of humanity, or humanity itself will be discarded by Universe as a viable evolutionary agent. [826.05]

Humans, like the honeybee, are born ignorant, preprogrammed with hunger, thirst, and respiratory drives to take in chemical elements in crystalline, liquid, and gaseous increments, as well as with procreativeness and parental-protectiveness drives. With their directly programmed drives humans inadvertently produce (what are to them) side effects, which results in their doing the right cosmic regenerative tasks for all the wrong reasons - or without any reason at all. This preliminary phase of preconditioned human reflexing, while lasting millions of years, is a gestative-phase behavior that becomes obsolete as humans’ metaphysical mind discovers the principles of precession and discovers - only through vast, cumulative trial and error - the pattern experience of both terrestrial and cosmic ecology; whereafter humans will progressively recommit their endeavors in support of the recycling and orbitally regenerative effects, precessionally interproduced by all independently orbiting cosmic systems. This abrupt 90-degree reorientation constitutes the evolutionary stage through which humanity is now passing, wherein humanity will progressively exchange its exclusive preoccupation with self-preservation for that of supporting omni-inclusive, cosmic integrity. [326.13]

As noted in the present author’s essay Inefficient Nature, Fuller was an advocate of teleology. Teleology is the interpretation of apparent order as deliberate design. The observation of apparent order in Universe is interpreted as evidence of an ordering agent, apparent design interpreted as evidence of a designer.

Fuller might have resisted the title creationist. He resisted most titles, unless they were titles he coined for himself. He might have been uncomfortable with the company of fellow creationists, or proud to be seen again as an outsider to mainstream scientific thought. How much being a creationist is a mark for or against Fuller is left to the reader. But the fact that Fuller was a creationist is demonstrated in his own words.

- Trevor Blake

Trevor Blake is the author of the Buckminster Fuller Bibliography, available at synchronofile.com

Reference

Fuller, R. Buckminster: Critical Path. New York: St. Martin’s Press 1981.
Fuller, R. Buckminster: Synergetics. New York: Macmillan, 1975.
Fuller, R. Buckminster: Synergetics 2. New York: Macmillan, 1979.
Isaak, Mark: Index to Creationist Claims, Claim CA111. http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA111.html
Wikipedia: Cetacea. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cetacea
Wikipedia: Human. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human
Wikipedia: Lamarckism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamarckism
Wikipedia: The Ancestor’s Tale. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ancestor’s_Tale
Wilkins, John: Darwin’s Precursors and Influences. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/precursors/precurstrans.html

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Tuesday, September 1st, 2009 Uncategorized

4D House in 3D

Buckminster Fuller’s 4D House in three dimensions. A work in progress by Trevor Blake of synchronofile.com. Silent, B/W, 30 seconds.

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Monday, August 3rd, 2009 Uncategorized

Buckminster Fuller and the Twelfth of July

All of the following occurred on the twelfth of July…

1895 Richard Buckminster Fuller was born.
1910 Richard Buckminster Fuller Senior, Fuller’s father, died.
1917 Fuller married Anne Hewlett.
1933 Fuller completed Dymaxion Car #1.
1938-1939 ‘the main system of general education instruction to go on the air and screen’ according to Fuller’s book Nine Chains to the Moon.
1938 Roger Hewlett wrote a poem for Fuller titled One Chain to a Room.
1940 Fuller vacationed with Christopher Morley and conceived the Dymaxion Deployment Unit.
1957 a United States Marine Corps dome was lifted by helicopter from the deck of the USS Leyte.
1957 Fuller received an honorary doctorate from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri USA.
1966 Fuller lectured at a NASA Symposium at Southern Illinois University Institute of Technology in Carbondale, Illinois USA.
1967 the Montreal Biosphère was dedicated by Fuller to Anne as a wedding anniversary gift.
1969 the first Public World Game was played in New York City, New York USA.
1970 Fuller received an honorary doctorate from Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois USA.
1974 Matthew Meyerson wrote a haiku for Fuller in the Synergetics Cookbook.
1976 Fuller received and honorary doctorate from the University of New Mexico.
1980 John Cage wrote a poem about Buckminster Fuller.
[R. Buckminster Fuller died in 1983]
1984 a commemorative exhibit titled In Memoriam R B F was shown in Singapore.
1999 Your Private Sky: R. Buckminster Fuller edited by Joachim Krausse published.
2000 Ron Campbell performed Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe at the Lorraine Hansberry Theater in San Francisco, California USA.
2003 the Artaud Theater in San Francisco hosted a Buckminster Fuller birthday tribute.
2004 the US Postal Service issued a stamp honoring Buckminster Fuller.
2008 Bucky’s Ge-Odyssey presented by The Center for Architecture Foundation in New York City, New York USA.
2008 synchronofile.com went online.

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Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 Uncategorized

Buckminster Fuller, Literary Critic

Among the many uncollected works of Buckminster Fuller are his book blurbs.  There was a time when Fuller’s social credit was such that an advertiser would use his words to promote anything from books on architecture to non-fiction to novels.  Here are some examples of book and magazine blurbs by R. Buckminster Fuller. - Trevor Blake

Architects on Architecture by Paul Heyer. “Your beautiful book is magnificently done.” New York Times 26 February 1967.  Paul Heyer is an architectural critic and author.

Future Shock by Alvin Toffler.  “Cogent… brilliant… I hope vast numbers will read Toffler’s book.”  Made into a film narrated by Orson Wells.  New York Times 5 January 29 and 31 August 1970.  Alvin Toffler, like Fuller, was associated with Fortune magazine.  Toffler is the author of The Third Wave and other books on futurist themes.

Watership Down by Richard Adams.  “One of those great ones that every once in a while lets us know that the universe has something really mysteriously great ‘going’ for humanity.”  Watership Down was made into film and a television series.  New York Times 26 February 1974.

Naked is the Best Disguise by Samuel Rosenberg.   The author “may overwhelm you.  His tapestry is beautiful.  It is incredibly logical.  I love it.”  New York Times 16 and 20 June 1974.  Rosenberg suggests that author Sir A. C. Doyle revealed his personal thoughts through his character Sherlock Holmes.

The New Yorker Magazine.  “I first came to Philadelphia in the navy, during World War I.  I was the commander of a small craft and was ordered to dock at the foot of Market Street.  It happened to be Halloween.  Not knowing how Philadelphia behaves on Halloween, I was astonished to find the whole evening I was kissed by beautiful girls.  They still have this wonderful community spirit here in Philadelphia.”  New York Times 24 October 1974.  The New Yorker is a magazine founded in the 1920s.

The Urban Predicament by William Gorman and Nathan Glazer. “I am in full agreement with you regarding the predicament… and I am all for the logical amplification of concern so effectively accomplished by your book.”  New York Times 13 June 1976.  A publication of the Urban Institute, founded in 1968.

The Human Cougar by Lloyd L. Morain. “… a warm, vivid appreciation of… a disappearing species… maligned by the masters of money and politics… ” New York Times 21 November 1976. Morain is also the author of the book Humanism As the Next Step.

Others Including Morstive Sternbump by Marvin Cohen.  “This book appeals to me so much that I do not want to make any careless quickie remarks.  Morstive Sternbump’s philosophy is congruent with my own.”  New York Times 12 December 1976.

The Clam Lake Papers by Edward Lueders.  “So spontaneously of interest that despite the priorities, we find ourselves stealing time that belongs to our committed responsibilities.  The Clam Lake Papers… certainly are for me.” New York Times 27 November 1977.  Lueders is also the author of Writing Natural History.

The Cousteau Almanac by Jaques-Yves Cousteau.  “The Cousteau Almanac is must reading for all those committed to the successful continuance of humankind in the Universe.”  New York Times 25 October 1981.  Cousteau was the inventor of the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, SCUBA.

Mankind in Amnesia by Immanuel Velikovsky.  “Mankind in Amnesia is an extraordinarily important book, beautifully researched and devastatingly true.”  New York Times 11 April 1982.  Velikovsky was the founder of what has been called catastrophism, or the interpretation of ancient stories of world catastrophes as literal descriptions of past events.

Trevor Blake is the author of the Buckminster Fuller Bibliography, available at synchronofile.com

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Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 Uncategorized

Buckminster Fuller and the Homeless of New York

If Buckminster Fuller is known for any effort, it is the effort to provide shelter.  But who did Fuller actually provide shelter for?  The Lightful House and 4D House existed only on paper.  The Dymaxion House existed only as a small scale model.  The Dymaxion (Wichita) House existed as two full-scale models (one internal, one external, neither able to be connected to the other).  The Dymaxion Deployment Unit did house US armed forces personnel - but the DDU was the invention of Victor C. Norquist, not Buckminster Fuller.  The geodesic dome was invented by Walter Bauersfeld who made a number of dome shelters.  Fuller never built a dome for sale as a shelter.  Of the dozens of books by and about Fuller, of the thousands of articles on his life and work, most of them fail to give a single instance of when Fuller actually provided shelter to anyone.  The Buckminster Fuller Bibliography by Trevor Blake is the first book to document that Fuller provided shelter for others with his own direct effort.

The New York Times for 10 September 1932 includes an uncredited article titled “Single Jobless Men to Get Lodging House / Social Worker and Engineer Obtain Use of Tenement for Those Ineligible for City Aid.”  The buiding in question was a then-deserted seven-story building located at 145 Ridge Street in New York City, New York.  The social worker was Ben Howe and the engineer was Buckminster Fuller.  Fuller is described as “editor of the magazine Shelter and head of Structural Study Associates, an engineering firm.”  According to the article, the men who were renovating the building were hoping to live in it afterward.  They were otherwise ineligible for benefits because they were not the head of a family.  The building was to house two hundred and fifty men at a time and serve several thousand during Winter.  Lieutenant R. E. Johnson was also involved in this project.  He is described as a “former army construction engineer and commander of the United States Ex-Service Men’s Association.”  At the time of the article, the shelter was under construction.  The building described in this article no longer exists.

The New York Times for 2 December 1932 includes an uncredited article titled “Jobless Veterans Back in Barracks / 300 Single Men to Live Under Military Rule in Converted Clubhouse in 54th St.”  The building in question was a five-story converted boy’s club at 340 East 54th Street in New York City, New York.  According to the article, the shelter would be run by and for veterans and in a military style.  The shelter would serve single men because of their difficulties in obtaining relief from existing services.  The plan was initiated by “a meeting of representatives of various interested organizations at the office of Raymond V. Ingersoll.”  Ingersoll served as a New York Parks Commissioner and as a Brooklyn Borough President.  A residential development named after Ingersoll stands today at 120 Navy Walk in Brooklyn, New York.  The representatives at the meeting included Ben Howe and Buckminster Fuller of the 145 Ridge Street shelter, Philip Hiss, Colonel Walter L. DeLamater, Arthur Huck, Louis Gleich, Owen R. Lovejoy, Cyrus C. Perry,  James R. Sichel and Henry C. Wright.  Philip Hiss went on to design and build homes in Florida, although he was not a trained architect.  Col. DeLamater served in the 71st Infantry Regiment, an organization of the New York State Guard.  Arthur Huck worked on numerous homeless shelter projects in the New York area, as reported in decades of articles found in the New York Times. Louis Gleich was a commander in the New York County Council of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and was the chairman of the committee that erected a VFW monument in Union Square.  Owen Lovejoy served as the General Secretary of the Nationial Child Labor Committee.  The building formerly house the Kips Bay Boys’ Club, where Lovejoy served as secretary.  The building was to be called Veterans Cantonment No. 1.  At the time of the article, the shelter was in operation.  The building described in this article may still exist, but as the building next to the one that currently is designated as 340 East 54th Street.

By 1932, Buckminster Fuller had published drawings of his 4D House and exhibited models of his Dymaxion House.  He had been featured in the Chicago Evening Post, Fortune Magazine, the Harvard Crimson, Modern Mechanics Magazine, the New York Times and Time Magazine.  Fuller had published his monograph 4D and was publishing Shelter Magazine.  He had earned the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade in the United States Navy.  In 1933 Fuller would begin work on the Dymaxion Car.

What makes these shelters distinct from any other that Fuller was involved with was that they provided actual shelter to actual men.  While they do not have the glamor that Fuller’s Dymaxion House and other creations had, they hold the advantage by having existed. Giving a new purpose to an existing structure was an idea that Fuller seldom developed but never abandoned. In his 1970 book I Seem to Be a Verb, Fuller wrote: “Our beds are empty two-thirds of the time. Our living rooms are empty seven-eights of the time. Our office buildings are empty one-half of the time. It‘s time we gave this some thought.”

- Trevor Blake

Trevor Blake is the author of the Buckminster Fuller Bibliography, available at synchronofile.com

Reference:

71st Infantry Regiment (New York). 1 April 2009. Wikipedia. 22 May 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/71st_Infantry_Regiment_(New_York)

Davis, Edwards: “Advocates the Standardizing of Industry by Law.” New York Times [New York City, New York] 27 July 1913: SM14

Fuller, R. Buckminster. I Seem to Be a Verb. New York: Bantam Books, 1970.

Ingersoll, Raymond V. Houses. 2009. New York City Housing Authority. 22 May 2009. http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycha/html/developments/bklyningersoll.shtml

“Louis Gleich, 69, Dies.” New York Times [New York City, New York] 26 Sept 1961: 39.

“Philip H. Hiss 3d, 78, Designer of Buildings.” New York Times [New York City, New York]
4 November 1988: B4.

Sieden, Lloyd S. Buckminster Fuller’s Universe. Cambridge: Perseus Publishing, 1989.

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Friday, May 22nd, 2009 Uncategorized

Inefficient Nature


R. Buckminster Fuller (1895 - 1983) claimed that nature was efficient.  Fuller claimed the  efficiency of nature was the model he used for his inventions, inventions with which he attempted to ‘do more with less.’  As part of a critical analysis of Fuller and what he called comprehensive anticipatory design science, this essay will demonstrate that Fuller’s claim is false.

Fuller used the words nature, Universe, everything, all and similar words as synonyms.  This essay will use the single word nature to reference what Fuller spoke of by each of these words.  Nature is “the totality of both all that is known and all that is unknown.” [1056.13: this an all other numbered citations are from Fuller's Synergetics and Synergetics 2]  Nature “consisting always of observer plus the observed.” [540.03]  Fuller’s use of the words nature or efficiency are not unusual or strained or vague.  When Fuller spoke of nature, he spoke of all that is.

Humans are part of what is known and unknown.  Humans are in part observer and in part observed.  Fuller claimed humans are part of nature.  Humans are “an essential metaphysical function of Universe.”  [326.24]  Fuller claimed that humans have a function in nature.  This claim will be more fully addressed in a future essay.  For this essay, it is sufficient to note that the function of humans is addressed only as evidence that Fuller claimed humans are part of nature.  Fuller claimed that humans have a “cosmically unique [function] in the generalized design scheme of Universe.” [165]  Scientific and artistic discoveries are the “the gradual discovery of the function in Universe which humanity has been designed to fulfill.” [174]  “Humans were included in the cosmic system’s design to fulfill critical functions in respect to maintenance of the integrity of eternally regenerative Scenario Universe.” [265.01]

Fuller applied his claim that humans are a part of nature and that humans have a function in nature to humanity as a species and to individual humans.  “The individual metaphysical human viewpoint - the individual ego of the human - is indeed an essential function of the eternally regenerative integrity of complex law-governed Universe.” [310.13]  “[Each] one of us is where the problem-solving of Universe is being transacted [...] each of us might be a department of the mind of what we might call god [...] each of us humans is an important function in sustaining the eternally regenerative integrity of Universe.” [311.14-15]

The above quotations establish that Fuller claimed nature was all-inclusive, and that humans (as a species and as individuals) are part of nature.  Fuller also claimed that nature was efficient.  Like his use of the words nature, Universe, everything, all, etc. as synonyms, Fuller used a number of words as synonyms for efficiency.  These include economical, least effort, most comfortable and others.  This essay will use the single word efficiency to reference what Fuller spoke of by each of these words.  Fuller was clear about where nature’s efficiency could be found by using words such as only, always, all, 100%.  Fuller claimed that there were absolutely no exceptions to nature’s efficiency.

Fuller claimed “There are no straight lines, physical or metaphysical. There are only geodesic, i.e., most economical, interrelationships (vectors).” [240.25]  These vectors “are always the most economical event interrelationships.” [240.27]  Nature “always operates most economically” [260.33], “always employs only the most economical intertransformative and omnicosmic interrelatedness behavioral stratagems” [537.06], “always operates in the most economical ways.”  [990.03]  Nature is “100-percent-efficient.”  [987.031]  Efficiency is found in “all design of all pattern integrity of Universe.” [539.05]  “All the forces operative in Universe result in a complex progression of most comfortable - i.e., least effort, rearrangings.” [601.01] “All the physicists’ experiments show that nature always employs the most energy-economical strategies.” [950.21]

Fuller clearly claimed that nature was always efficient and that humans were part of nature.  Criticism of these claims yields logical contradictions, internal contradictions and contradictions with evidence.

If all things are part of nature, and if all of nature is efficient, then how can one know that nature is efficient?  There is no non-natural thing to measure efficiency against, and there is no non-efficient thing to measure nature against.  Equating nature and efficiency and removing the possibility that there is a non-natural or non-efficient thing makes either nature or efficiency or both impossible to observe.

If humans (as a species and as individuals) are a part of nature then all inventions by humans (as a species and as individuals) are equally based on nature.  Fuller’s inventions are neither more or less based on nature than any other invention by any other person.  No invention by Fuller is any more or less efficient than any any other invention by any other person.

Fuller contradicts himself when he claims “The cosmic design often employs precession to guide the ignorant players into inadvertently producing the evolutionarily necessary regenerative integrity functions, while the ignorant are consciously preoccupied only in vain and selfishly expedient ends.” [541.18]  Are humans efficient or not?

Efficiency is inherently a singular state.  But Fuller writes “Nature employs only one or another of the most equieconomical relationships.”  [1023.15]  If a thing or process is most efficient, that must mean that all other things and processes are less efficient.  How can there be more than one “most equieconomical relationship?”

Fuller may have been aware of some of the claims in his contradictions.  When he usually writes about humans in absolute terms (always, only, all, etc.), at least once Fuller left himself an out by speaking of humans in relative terms (it could be, if, might, etc.).  “So it could be that human beings, wherever they occur in Universe, may be introduced as a means of coping metaphysically with the most complex kinds of local Universe problems, so that each one of us is where the problem-solving of Universe is being transacted. If we were to think of ourselves as things - as china dolls, as kinds of china dolls that would just get smashed up or would just get worn or eroded away - that wouldn’t be very good thinking. It would be much closer to actual Universe to think of ourselves as an absolutely continuous complex process. We are quite possibly the most complex of the problem-solving challenges of the invention that is eternally regenerative Scenario Universe. In this way each of us might be a department of the mind of what we might call god.”  [311.14]

Fuller’s contradictory claims about nature and efficiency have three sources: the powers and responsibilities he claimed as part of his revelation of 1927, his theism and his misunderstanding of the scientific method.  Fuller’s revelation will be more fully addressed in a future essay.  For this essay, it is sufficient to note that Fuller claimed to know “the coordinate system of Universe.”  Fuller “need not await temporal attestations to [his] thoughts, [for he thought] the truth.”  Where science is the process of making claims and subjecting them to criticism, design science (Fuller) was exempt from criticism.  Fuller claimed that evolution was deliberately not working in any area addressed by others.  [250.51]  Fuller’s theism will also be more fully addressed in a future essay.  For this essay it is sufficient to note that Fuller advocated teleology, the interpretation of apparent order as deliberate design.  This essay will address the role of efficiency in science.

Nature does not appear to be especially driven by efficiency.  Universe has changed over time; wouldn’t it have been more efficient for the Universe to occur at it’s present ‘most efficient’ state (or some future ‘most efficient’ state)?  The human body is replete with examples of ‘inefficiency.’  These include the ratio of the human head (large) to the birth canal (small), breech birth, genetic disorders and congenital diseases, wisdom teeth and more.  Was Fuller’s wife Annie’s cancer ‘efficient?’  Was Fuller’s own heart attack?

Evolution, the change found in nature, is the non-random endurance of traits influenced by random internal and external events.  Evolution is an accumulation of what has not yet been chipped away, not the accumulation of fitness.  Science is the process of attentiveness to error, what has been chipped away, and not the accumulation of facts.  While the apparent inefficiency of the human body contradicts any claim that nature is always efficient or intelligently designed, the process of evolution is a claim by science that fits the evidence.

There is a flawed but serviceable method for humanity to measure and increase efficiency.  That method is science.  Claims can be made about the efficiency of an object or process, those claims can be submitted to tests, and those objects or processes that do not fail can be provisionally held to be efficient.  These objects or processes can be submitted to repeated and hopefully more critical tests.  Such testing will not breed efficiency into an object or process.  It will not discover an inherent efficiency in an object or process, like a fairy of growth in the green garden.  But scientific testing may breed out inefficiency.

The scientific method cannot guarantee to breed out inefficiency but it is the only method known to work on occasion.  Nor is science bound to breeding out inefficiency only in housing or transportation or education.  Science can also breed out inefficiency in weaponry and war.  Perhaps what remains of value in Fuller’s design science is Fuller’s claim that scientists can elect to apply their skills and resources to peaceful ends.  This claim does not make design science exempt from criticism, or resolve its contradictions, or distinguish it from ‘non-design science’ science.  But science applied to peaceful ends is a laudable goal and in that Fuller is to be commended.

- Trevor Blake

Trevor Blake is the author of the Buckminster Fuller Bibliography, available at synchronofile.com

Reference

Fuller, R. Buckminster: Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking. Macmillan: New York 1975.

Fuller, R. Buckminster: Synergetics 2: Further Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking. Macmillan: New York 1979.

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Saturday, January 17th, 2009 Uncategorized

The Puppets of Buckminster Fuller

Synergetics was Buckminster Fuller’s attempt to bridge science and the humanities.  Fuller employed many forms of communication to teach synergetics.  He was the author or subject of dozens of books and hundreds of essays.  He was a tireless public speaker, lecturing before hundreds of thousands in over one hundred globe-circling tours.  Less known than these means of communication, Buckminster Fuller also used puppetry to teach synergetics through a long association with his friend and professional puppeteer Bil Baird (August 15, 1904 – March 18, 1987).  Baird and Fuller crossed paths several times, and are known to have collaborated in several ways.

Baird’s troupe, The Baird Marionettes, was formed in the early 1930s and gave their first performance at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.  Fuller was also at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, exhibiting the Dymaxion Car.  Their paths may have crossed again at the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair where the Baird Marionettes were performing The Show-Go-Round at the Chrysler Pavilion.  Fuller was also in New York City at the time, making television and radio appearances in July, August, September and November of 1964 and in July of 1965.  Fuller was in New York City again in October 1965 to attended an opening at the Museum of Modern Art.

The Baird Marionettes performed in the 1951 Broadway musical Flahooley.  According to Wikipedia, Flahooley was “a fantasy about a mass-produced laughing doll who unintentionally threatens the American industrial system.”  Fuller, too, sometimes found himself at odds with the American industrial system due to his enthusiasm for mass production in the housing industry on-par with the automotive and aviation industry.

Another connection between Fuller and Baird was Evelyn Schwartz.  Fuller had an affair with Schwartz in 1927. Schwartz later joined the Baird troupe and married Bil Baird in 1932.  After Baird and Schwartz divorced, Schwartz married Vilhjalmur Stefansson.  Schwartz and Stefansson first met Schwartz at Romany Marie’s a restaurant where Fuller gave weekly ‘thinking out loud’ lectures in exchange for food.  Fuller had exhibited the Dymaxion House at Romany Marie’s, using nude female dolls as yet another way to draw attention to his ideas.

The preceding are all incidental connections between Baird and Fuller, but more concrete connections exist.  In 1955 Fuller designed and built what the New York Times called “an abstraction [...] two metal frames that dance enchantingly” for the Baird Marionette troupe.  What the times was referring to was a cuboctahedron performing what Fuller called the Jitterbug Transformation.  These puppets were used by the Baird Marionettes in 1958 for Adventures in Number + Space, which may represent the first time Fuller’s Jitterbug Transformation appeared on television.  Adventures in Number + Space appeared on the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company network in the late 1950s.  The television program taught mathematics through puppetry.  The illustration above is an uncredited photograph of the Fuller puppets from an advertisement for Adventures in Number + Space that appeared in the New York Times.

Fuller made puppets for the Bairds.  He was also made a puppet by the Bairds.  The thousands of marionettes made by Baird’s troupe included a Bucky Fuller marionette.  The Baird marionettes were sold at auction in 1967.  This presumably included the Fuller marionette.  Its location is currently unknown.

- Trevor Blake

Trevor Blake is the author of the Buckminster Fuller Bibliography, available at synchronofile.com

Reference

Atkinson, Brooks: Bairds’ Marionettes, The. New York Times, 27 December 1955, p. 29. New York, NY USA.

Blake, Trevor: Buckminster Fuller Bibliography. synchronofile.com, Portland 2008.

Gargle Came in the Nick of Time. New York Times, 6 March 1958, p. 28. New York, NY USA.

Wikipedia: Bil Baird. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bil_Baird

Wikipedia: Romany Marie. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romany_Marie

Wikipedia: Vilhjalmur Stefansson.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vilhjalmur_Stefansson

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Saturday, December 6th, 2008 Uncategorized

The Approximately Omnidirectional Ephemeralization of Richard Buckminster Fuller

I will be delivering a new version of my one-hour lecture The Approximately Omnidirectional Ephemeralization of Richard Buckminster Fuller this weekend in Portland, Oregon.

When: 6pm Sunday 30 November 2008.

Where: Portland Center Stage, 128 NW Eleventh Avenue, Portland, Oregon.

Cost: Free! (but buy a ticket and stay for the play after my lecture).

Immediately after my lecture is a performance of R. Buckminster Fuller: THE HISTORY (and Mystery) OF THE UNIVERSE. I have seen this play several times and this production several times. I encourage everyone to please see this play!

- Trevor Blake

Trevor Blake is the author of the Buckminster Fuller Bibliography, available at synchronofile.com

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Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 Uncategorized

Dymaxion Portland

Coming up on Monday, November 10 in the Ellyn Bye Studio: DYMAXION PORTLAND.

A conversation about regional resources with David Bragdon (Metro), John Haines (Mercy Corps NW), Jill Fuglister (Coalition for a Livable Future) and Lawrence Wallack (PSU’s College of Urban and Public Affairs).

Join some of Portland’s leading thinkers and policy-makers for a discussion on the region’s “Spaceship Earth” challenges (like open spaces and environmental stewardship, renewable energy population growth, equity, sustainable development, climate change, hunger and affordable/adequate shelter). Presented in conjunction with Portland Center Stage’s production of R. Buckminster Fuller: THE HISTORY (and Mystery) OF THE UNIVERSE.

Also: “The Approximately Omnidirectional Ephemeralization of Richard Buckminster Fuller” with Trevor Blake
Sunday, November 30, 6 pm (Mezzanine).  One of Portland’s resident Buckminster Fuller scholars presents an innovative meditation on the man who urged us all to “do more with less.”

DYMAXION PORTLAND
Monday, November 10, 7:30 pm
Ellyn Bye Studio, Gerding Theater at the Armory (Free and open to the public)
For more information: [email protected]| www.pcs.org

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Saturday, November 8th, 2008 Uncategorized

About

[1] The synchronofile is a private collection of printed work by and about R. Buckminster Fuller, owned by Trevor Blake and located in Portland, OR USA. Access to researchers available by appointment. [2] synchronofile.com is a publisher of works by and about R. Buckminster Fuller.