Design: The Dymaxion American

  • Share
  • Read Later

(9 of 11)

Bucky is indebted to S.I.U. for providing him with both a home base and a springboard, and Fuller's fame has helped repay the debt, Sixteen years ago, there were only 3,013 students on the Carbondale campus: today there are no fewer than 18,201 students and a faculty of 1,154. And the university has just been awarded a $10 million, three-year space project, which Bucky will head.

Ten months of the year he spends traveling—and talking. Fuller gets $1,000 per lecture these days, but he gives his audiences an exceptional $1,000 worth. Rare is the lecture that does not run four hours, and often he is still going strong after six—his younger listeners entranced and his older ones falling out of their chairs with fatigue.

Cities in the Sea. In these talks, and in long hours with his friends, Bucky spins off a constant stream of ideas. The project nearest and dearest to his heart these days is the worldwide inventory of the globe's resources. Bucky views this as a matter of war or peace. Says a friend: "Bucky sees the population explosion, man's myths and antagonisms as foretelling a possible new deluge. If resources are not utilized according to Fuller principles of 'comprehensive design,' and therefore become scarce, men will begin to club each other to death." He has drumbeat such enthusiasm for his project that he has enlisted the help of many of the world's architectural organizations, including the International Union of Architects, which last year agreed to hold a special convention in Mexico City because Bucky could not go to the regular congress, scheduled years ago for Havana.

Bucky sees no reason why mankind should not utilize "the three-quarters of the world that is water." He has projected service stations anchored to the sea bottom for submarines to nestle up to. "It is well known that below 40 feet, turbulence is manageable." he says. He proposes that the automobile may be the next fossil. "We will put little jet wings on our backs and fly out the window on high-frequency beams." Divining that the compression and tension factors can be separated in any structure, he has designed a "tensegrity mast" that seems to be held up by nothing at all. But Fuller insists that with this mast combined with his frame of tetrahedron-octahedron combinations which he calls the "octet truss," he could bridge the Grand Canyon itself.

So far, no one has put the tensegrity mast to use, except as decoration. But Fuller is not discouraged. As he wrote recently: "My ideas have undergone a process of emergence by emergency. When they are needed badly enough, they're accepted. So I just invent, then wait until man comes around to needing what I've invented."

When not talking about everything and anything, he is writing about it—in language that can only be described as a sesquipedalian fractured English all his own. A sample sentence, from Page One of a recent autobiographical sketch about his boyhood, begins:

"By 'teleologic' I mean: the subjective-to-objective, intermittent, only-spontaneous, borderline-conscious, and within-self communicating system that distills equatable principles—characterizing relative behavior patterns—from our pluralities of matching experiences: and reintegrates selections from those net

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11