Friday, June 13, 2008

Poor Slob Bucky (PSB)

Probing... R. Buckminster Fuller
Herald Tribune, June 12, 2008

Here's one of those "poor Bucky" articles, making it his failure that the world is still so ugly, despite all that fun with the patents, awards, honorary degrees, trips around the world, stellar students, hot books, groovy gigs etc. "By conventional measures he accomplished little" says our journalist.

Plus he apparently experienced lots of despair, so couldn't really be the god he thought he was etc., probably even faked that egocide event, just to win fans and blah blah. Looks like there's a whole book of this stuff in the pipeline (probably several). I call it the "Bucky-as-Britney" genre and, as a big fan of both, am looking forward to more (including on HBO).

More seriously, I think part of it's cultural: "saving the world" was branded "crazy messiah talk" (ego maniacal) back then, whereas "saving for a rainy day" was considered acceptable, sounded sane. Nowadays however, it's considered perfectly normal to be working to "save the world" from global climate change, pollution, overpopulation... terrorism, so yesteryear's "crazy messiahs" just blend right in, as more everyday heroes, more decent human beings. Times change.

The guy didn't last at Harvard because he was a rebellious contrarian who didn't find his professors Olympian enough, preferred sneaking off to study visionaries, liked show biz. Sketching him in a pathetic light, skipping over Annapolis and military service, in a rush to this 1927 personal crisis, sells readers short, makes the maudlin lighting and dime store psychology more plausible. The easier interpretation is he anticipated the counter-culture, had a way of getting "beyond squares" (both literally, and psychologically), and Harvard wasn't ready (still isn't most likely -- not our problem).