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For those with a limited amount of time or a low tolerance for frustration, the best way into Fuller is undoubtedly through Kenner. Eliot said of Ezra Pound, after Pound had carved “The Waste Land” out of the monumental stuff of Eliot's unedited verse.“A Guided Tour of Buckminster Fuller” is the subtitle of Kenner's study, and Kenner is a guide both knowledgeable and affable; sympathetic, leisurely, and with infinite patience to explain. “The century's most tireless explainer,” Kenner calls Fuller, who now spends nearly 300 days each year jetting around the world to conferences and lectures, where he proclaims the same gospel again and again, extemporizing variations on his favorite themes in verbal marathons.The language he has evolved since he felt it safe to speak again is a distinctive and personal one, with its own peculiar vocabulary and often creaky syntax.Beginning in the 20's and continuing through the next three decades, he also turned his attention increasingly to making models and designs, devising the Dymaxion car, house, bathroom, and map which bemused futurist-minded Americans of the 30's and 40's.Out of his musings on the properties of geometric figures, plane and three-dimensional, came the Dome, its near-relation the Tensegrity Sphere (tension integrity), the Octet Truss, and the Tensegrity Mast designed by Kenneth Snelson, a student of Fuller's at Black Mountain College.All of them are compounded out of such quirky and interesting figures as the pentagon or the octahedron.So far, all of them except the Dome have found no practical application and are most likely to be met with in an art museum, and all of them are impossible to talk about without the use of drawings and elaborate explanations.
He himself would quickly point out that the desire to pin a label on him is a symptom of our age's unhealthy craving for specialization.
He further concluded that God knew best “whether I may be of any value to the integrity of the universe.” He decided to dedicate himself to understanding the meaning of his own varied and colorful experience, which he considered to be his only asset, and also “to peel off from conventional livelihood preoccupations and to enter into a period of research and development.” As a first step, he undertook a two-year moratorium on speech.
He concluded that had gotten him into a good deal of trouble and that he would use them no more until he was quite certain of what they meant and that he was actually communicating with others.
All of them were shaped according to his personal understanding of human needs and of space-and-motion principles; all of them incorporated unique advantages (the three-wheeled Dymaxion car could turn in a tight circle) and disadvantages (it also tended to head into cross-winds and needed an experienced sailor at the rudder); and all of them looked like no car, map, bathroom, or house ever seen before, which no doubt partly accounted for their failure to go into mass production in spite of Fuller's hard work and perennial optimism._____________“Inventor,” then, must be his title.
But the only invention of his in wide use is the Geodesic Dome (50,000 “official” domes around the world, says Kenner, many of them climbing toys in playgrounds, plus an unknown number of others built by youthful communards and woods-dwellers), and it is not chiefly as an inventor that Fuller is now besought to lecture.