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“The most important fact about Spaceship Earth: An instruction book didn’t come with it.” Buckminster Fuller

I was in Oxford, England surrounded by American summer students when Buckminster Fuller died.

I mourned him, none of my classmates even knew who he was, so I mourned him again; that his countryman (but my contemporaries) had no knowledge of his brilliance and achievements took me by surprise.

His understanding of the Universe influenced my younger brain.  There is no up and no down on a round planet that is hurtling through the universe. What does that mean? In the orient love is a verb. Isn’t it a verb here too?

I had to go looking for that quote today, have begun to wonder if it is from Marshall McLuhan’s book The Medium is the Massage, an aside why does everyone quote that as Message? How ironic it must have been to him as a media giant, that the media always misquoted that passage.

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Photographer Will Kurlyuk  Title of work Balancing Acts

R. Buckminster Fuller’s book title is I Seem to Be a Verb.  His book Nine Chains to the Moon is a reference to the earth’s circumference, which would be one chain; nine chains the distance to travel there.  Who knew?  What an intelligent way to understand a distance that cannot be easily comprehended.  His map of the world, which I never could find in a format that would enable me to use it as I do the Mercator  is  “my Dymaxion map, it shows a one world island, in a one world ocean.” 1

His prose titled Numerology changed the way I thought about history and time and tides. The idea that Wayfarers (thank you Farley Mowat) were the keepers and distributors of knowledge of the world makes perfect sense to me now but was then a profound idea. That the ancient mariners of the world were a clan with a language of numbers that transcended history as we are taught is a revelation. That binary calculation was the key to carrying information for culture so far in our past is astounding.  Yes computers run on 2 digits, zero and one. Have we all forgotten that bit of information?

But he came to mind because of one of my last posts, Small is Beautiful. He had a big brain and big brains do run to big ideas. “Dymaxion: Maximum gain of advantage from the minimum energy input.”2  Yes he not only changed how we perceive the world he changed the language as well.

We need both ways of seeing, but are they compatible? I hope so.

Why can’t we envision the simple answers as good? Does it diminish us as human beings or give us too much time to reflect on the inadequacies of the way our lives are lived?

Even if life experience doesn’t make us wiser shouldn’t it at least make us immune to continually repeating life’s earlier errors?

I found a quote in one of my note books, “Life corrected the error of thought.”  Man I wish I knew where I unearthed that.

“As inventor, you can ask cosmic questions:

Is man needed in the universe?

Does he have a universal function?

If he is essential, what needs to be invented to improve his functioning?

What are the largest overall trends of human evolution that need attention?” 3

1 quoted from Buckminster Fuller An Autobiographical Monologue/Scenario pg. 160 published 1980.

2and 3 quoted from the book, I SEEM TO BE A VERB


“ The most important fact about Spaceship Earth: An instruction book didn’t come with it.”

R. Buckminster Fuller b. July 12, 1895 d. July 1, 1983

About geri binks


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