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But eventually Bucky's father-in-law had to sell his stock in the company, and the directors were delighted to tell Bucky that his services would no longer be required. It was a bad time to be fired; his second daughter, Allegra, had just been born. The year was 1927.
Long Silence. Standing by Lake Michigan "on a jump-or-think basis," as he has put it, he decided that he had faith in what he calls, in Fullerese, "the anticipatory intellectual wisdom which we may call God." His next step was to come to the decision that this meant that there was an "a priori wisdom" in the fact of his own being. From there, he decided: "You do not have the right to eliminate yourself. You do not belong to you. You belong to the universe. You and all men are here for the sake of other men."
At this point, the Fuller legend has it, Bucky came to the conclusion that wordsthe things people had told himwere responsible for the mess he was in, and that he would henceforth not utter a sound until he really knew what he thought.
Fuller admits that this picture of complete Trappist silence may be somewhat exaggerated. He may have communicated with Anne by something more than sign language. But he did move with her and their infant daughter into a one-room apartment in a Chicago slum, withdrew completely from all friends and acquaintances for more than a year. And he thought.
The Great Leap. Bucky asked himself the most basic of questions. He began by examining the nature of the universe, as a manifestation of God himself. He concluded that it was governed by relatively few principles. Its essence was not matter but design. Even the new knowledge of the atom seemed to confirm his thinking; what gave the atom, and therefore all matter, its individual character, was nothing but the patterning of its component electrons and protons. He began to see man himself as "a complex of patterns. Man is not weight. It isn't the vegetables he eats, because he'll eat seven tons of vegetables in his life. It is a pattern integrity that goes on."
Bucky further reflected that with the huge acceleration of technological capability, mankind was on the verge of tremendous achievements that were not even being attempted because men were stuck in traditional molds of thinking. The time for a great leap forward was at hand, a revolution in which the old Newtonian world would be replaced by Einstein's. "Newton said in the first law of motion that a body persists in a state of rest except as it is affected by other bodies. Normal was 'at rest.' Einstein turned it the other way: 186,000 miles a second is normal. We are living in a world where change is normal."
Lighter Means Better. Bucky first turned his new perceptions on the industry he knew best: building. In the era when the aircraft industry in particular was devising a new technology of lightweight engineering and materials, the traditional building methods seemed to him absurd. Traditional buildings depended on compression on their walls to support the roof. But modern technology has developed tensile materials, which are many times stronger in relation to their weight than compression materials. A house designed to use tension as its basic structural principle could be made