Ming the Mechanic:
One individual for humanity

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 One individual for humanity2006-07-02 13:35
31 comments
by Flemming Funch

It is a well-known story, but can always bear being told again. Here's a quick summary a key turning point in Buckminster Fuller's life. From here, written by Amy C. Edmondson.
The inventor of the geodesic dome—a structure light enough to be lifted by a helicopter yet strong enough to withstand hurricanes—achieved his eventual acclaim by never breaking a bargain he made with himself in 1927 as he teetered at the edge of suicide. A series of business failures, compounded with lingering grief over the death of his daughter five years earlier, had made Fuller increasingly despondent. Then he was fired from his job as president of a construction company he had founded with his father-in-law, and a second daughter was born. Overwhelmed by a sense of failure, he felt he must get himself out of the way, ensuring that relatives would take care of his wife and their baby.

He went to Lake Michigan, intending to swim out to his death. Then he was struck by what he called a vision, in which he saw that he didn’t have the right to do away with himself. “You do not belong to you, you belong to the universe,” he was later to explain; for all his mistakes, he was the custodian of a unique package of experiences that just might have some utility for mankind. He would trust the “anticipatory intellectual wisdom which we may call God” and allow himself to live, and he would never forget that he was a “throwaway.”

Thus began the fifty-six-year experiment of “guinea pig B”—for Bucky—in which “an average healthy human being” resolved to become a problem solver “on behalf of all humanity.” One can only imagine the reactions of family and friends when the thirty-twoyear-old Fuller announced this. He further determined to dispense forever with the idea of “earning a living,” which to him meant advantaging oneself at the expense of others; if he concentrated on doing what needed to be done, funding would take care of itself. He decided to devote himself, broadly, to the technology of “livingry,” as opposed to weaponry.

Fuller moved his wife, Anne, and infant daughter, Allegra, to a one-room apartment in a Chicago slum, withdrew completely from all friends and social contact, and vowed not to speak again until he really knew what he thought. And then he began to think. His virtual silence lasted for almost two years and was the beginning of what he one day called “a blind date with principle.”
That is usually presented as sort of a "Wow, he's special!" kind of thing, like something crazy that one in a billion individuals might do, and it actually will work. Where Bucky's point was exactly that he wasn't all that special, but he just chose a different perspective: that of being of service to all of humanity. Which doesn't just necessarily mean that you become a monk, sitting around being nice, eating rice and beans, if somebody gives them to you. No, the point is the different perspective, of actually working on humanity's problems.

My reason for mentioning that is also personal, in that I notice that I personally tend to do better when I focus on crazy big global things than if I try to act normal and make a living. I'm not Buckminster Fuller, and I haven't considered jumping into Lake Michigan, and I'm not going to be quiet for two years. I simply notice that things tend to flow better for me in periods of time when I focus on bigger things, like the problems of humanity, and things flow worse when I try to do what I'm "supposed to do". You know, get a job, pay your taxes, plan your retirement, drive within the speed limit. I'm not very good at those things in either case, but they tend to sort themselves out better if there's something else that really is more important to me.

And I notice that recently, as I've tried to be more "normal", that isn't particularly working great for me. I'm not sure I know how. I don't even have much to say when I'm just being normal. So, just an observation that maybe I should think a bit bigger again.

Btw, the global climate might be more suited for that now than when Buckminster Fuller was around. You know, the Internet. It is a lot more feasible now for somebody to solve some little piece of what humanity needs, and communicate and distribute it to others easily, and more likely that they incidentally will be remunerated for it. The open source kind of thinking. Solve something that needs solving, solve it really well, and give it away, and most likely you'll indirectly see some kind of benefit from having done that.


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31 comments

2 Jul 2006 @ 15:24 by bushman : Normalady.
Trying to be whats considered normal, is a malady. I think lots of people go thru what Fuller went thru, and get to that point, do or die kind of thing, pull the trigger or get a grip, I been there. Only thing that stopped me was I didnt want to be labled a cowerd. But ultamatly came to the same conclusions as Fuller, that we are here individualy, on behalf of the Universe, not the other way around. :}  


2 Jul 2006 @ 15:34 by Catana @165.121.80.28 : The courage to work for the universe
Thanks for the reminder about Fuller's decision. I'm teetering on the edge of an idea that would be scarey as hell to make public, much less try to develop. It's big, the kind of big that most people would consider insane. I just hope I can find the courage.  


2 Jul 2006 @ 18:36 by AndriusKulikauskas @88.116.62.190 : It's wonderful to hear you think!
Hi Flemming, I very much like to hear you think. And I'm glad your writings are in the Public Domain, so I am collecting ones like these where you show your thought process, and I believe, growth process, see the question What Thinking Helps Me Do Better? at http://www.openleader.info/wiki.cgi?OpenLeader/Handbook Things are going well at our lab, I'm working on various business opportunities. Peace, Andrius  


2 Jul 2006 @ 18:55 by vaxen : Yes bro...
But you are special. More special than you know. You have encouraged, and enlightened me in so many ways. I am not alone in this either. That, of course, is what it is to be OT 16.

We have an old saying in the GO that " the only real OT's - that were ever made - all were made in the RPF - and that on rice and beans!" I'm glad that isn't true. You are proof of that. We love you... but just what is it that we love so much about our beloved Flemming Funch?

It isn't that you are so OT 16 - or beyond, no, it is that you are so beyond all that. A real Human being. But, then, that is what OT is all about isn't it? A real statico dyanamic source. From one source to another, then, we love YOU, Flemming, just as you are!

The 'New Game' is about to start ... wanna play?

No R2-45 for me, either, in part - thanks to you.
Geo Intelligence Operations?
GIO

http://www.hanford.gov/oci/

He who has ears, let him hear...  



2 Jul 2006 @ 20:04 by ming : Normal
Hey, well, thanks. It is good to have friends to remind you that you're not just supposed to be normal. For that matter, reflecting oneself in others is one avenue towards remembering what one is here to do.  


3 Jul 2006 @ 01:25 by mx @201.13.61.205 : vaxen, bro.. rice & beans & stuff
wow, I matured on the RPF's RPF, hehe, on what was left of rice and beans by others...

...wrote about it in the SciFi series of JD Flora.. readers thought all the timetravel in JD Flora were OK... but that what occured in the middle of Hollywood... no way, man... hehehe....

mx  



3 Jul 2006 @ 19:21 by Ge Zi @24.127.146.37 : thinking again
Flemming, so good to hear you think again ;-)
I had started to be concerned that you might get caught up in normality because we did not hear from you as much as normal (oop, that other kind of normal, I mean.)

mx, thanks for the reminder of the RPF's RPF - where I was probably the most un-normal person - or can anybody claim the be a guest on the RPF's RPF???

It feels great to not be normal - and out of that emotion new great things can be born, right?  



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