Torches Passed – Radical Challenge from the 20th Century

"We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody."  —Buckminster Fuller

“We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody.”  —Buckminster Fuller

Dear Readers,

A number of thinkers have offered great insight across time. The 20th Century had a coterie of true giants, thinkers who “shook conventional assumptions” so radically that we’ve not finished exploring the paths they set for us.

Three gained especially wide-spread fame. The field of psychology was birthed by Freud, Jung, and (my favorite) – Adler. Their great insights somewhat revealed here were “fodder” for significant 20th Century learning about “who we are”. Einstein’s science contributions, though well explored, are still treated as astonishing. (His remarkable insights on humanity and society are not well enough held in mind.) Karl Marx, (unfortunately still ‘feared’ by many Americans who’ve no knowledge of his work), gave exceptional analysis of human dynamics within economic structures. His meticulous and thorough study is deeply appreciated by many at home and abroad.

Many other powerful thinkers churned away during the same time period (late 1800’s into 20th Century.) These thinkers, as a ‘set,’ were well aware of one another’s work. As ideas go, it was heady times! (Not sure that’s really a pun!) Global communication and travel was established well enough, opportunity to publish strong enough, that a powerful brew of new ideas was possible.

I often view the ‘general set of early 20th Century thinkers’ as an astonishing “gift” to all of us. In one way or another all our lives are touched by amazing shifts in awareness that developed as we followed the ‘pointing’ of these ‘way-showers’.

There were other, less popularly known, giant thinkers of the time. Because of his radical thinking, Nikola Tesla‘s work with electromagnetism, his radical vision of practical application, has re-gained passionate attention in the last several decades. Tesla knew ‘electricity’ (and pointed to potential for ‘free’ electricity) as no other.

A second ‘not popularly known’ astonishing thinker of the time was Buckminster Fuller. His geodesic dome structures, extremely radical at the time, are now quite familiar. Less well known is “Bucky” Fuller’s philosophy, his sense of human society, his science, and his overall vision of how we humans can create a society that lets us ‘easily’ provide essentials, and frees us to highest potential. His intention was that this be so for every single human. He believed achieving this is well-within our capacity.

Our first task, from his view, is to make the choice to develop such a society.

I don’t carry Fuller’s contributions in mind the way I do, for instance, contributions of early psychology. Fuller’s ‘field’ was architecture, and I was less exposed to him. But every time I stumble across him, I wonder why I don’t just stop and become a ‘disciple!’

Fuller’s world view, (indeed, his “real” field of study), like Einstein’s, touched on “everything”.

Fuller reasoned humans are persistently and chronically stressed to the point of mean-spiritedness. We are thoroughly distracted by struggle to acquire and maintain housing, food, and employment (at unsatisfying work, that does not allow for passion).  He believed we’ve misled ourselves into a mistaken ‘philosophy’ that insists we, (or at least some of us),  ‘must suffer’ impoverishment.

Fuller believed it is within human nature and human ‘skill-set’ for us to live remarkable and immensely satisfying lives.This is available for each and all, but an environment of well-being is an absolute must.

Other ‘great thinkers’ of the set were also highly motivated to explore ‘absence of satisfaction’ and associated ‘suffering’.

Freud, Jung and Adler tackled psychological blocks to personal emotional comfort; Marx tackled work-place economic dynamics that reduced employees to machine-like function with no opportunity to pursue passionate curiosity in work or study.

Fuller took an entirely different ‘tack’. He thought about physical environment and devices.

Buckminster Fuller wanted to use what was known of physics, materials, and technology to create environments, including homes and transportation, that removed the ‘sweat and anxiety’ usually necessary to assure these for ourselves.

The link (here), to an excellent film of Buckminster Fuller describing his thoughts and concepts,  … is (August 2013) – no longer available! There’s much of Fuller on YouTube — see paragraph below starting with ‘In lieu of …“)

(In the ‘unavailable’ film) Fuller reviews his philosophy of “being human”; he explains and demonstrates fundamental ‘building blocks and forces’ of dynamic structures as present on earth and throughout the universe. Informative, tantalizing, inspiring, encouraging. “The whole universe”, he says, “is represented in each human being.” (paraphrased)

From ‘ quote below is from the same ‘dead link’ source as missing video – will attempt to re-locate its origins also!):

“Buckminster Fuller was an architect, engineer, geometrician, philosopher, futurist, inventor of the famous geodesic dome, and one of the most brilliant thinkers of his time. His legacy becomes ever more relevant, providing us a road map to steer our planet away from oblivion and toward a sustainable future for all humanity.

“This film by Oscar-winning filmmaker Robert Snyder, … … transports the viewer into Fuller’s mind and soul. Told entirely in his own words, the film is an intimate, personal and inspiring message from Fuller to our fragile world.”

In lieu of the ‘unavailable’ film I most hoped to offer – Robert Snyder has made this one-hour review of Fuller and his ideas available on YouTube:  see “Reflections: R. Buckminster Fuller (1977)”  The one-hour YouTube Fuller “Reflections” has some of the same footage as the ‘missing’ video.

(August, 2013 Note re ‘’). The site is active – a first rate resource to view films unavailable elsewhere. I’ve not found the page of above ‘dead’ Fuller links, but here’s the August 2013 ‘Buckminster Fuller’ search result from the site.)

Wonder-ful Treat! –MaggieAnn


About maggieannthoeni

A description once given of me was "rooted in the earth while roaming the stars" - and this has felt 'right'. I believe in something akin to this for each of us. I am a passionate supporter of discovering the autonomous self while serving the whole as primary intent. I believe in discovery of innate principles, clearing the overlay of socialization that obscures this from us. I believe it is our responsibility to leave no one behind - most particularly to respond to suffering as best we can whereever we find it, whenever we are made aware. I believe in this for the insect as well as the most magnificent form of humanity. I believe in brother/sisterhood without boundary. I believe in righteous indignation when it is appropriate, but do not believe in an enemy. I believe in consciousness, in intelligence, in logic, in rationality, in emotion, in transcendence - and am convinced until we generally practice explore and honor all this in ourselves, we remain profoundly immature. (I believe real maturity is known and practiced by many young children, and not enough adults!)
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