Bucky Fuller: This Is The Future

Dear Friend and Reader:

EARLIER this week I was writing Daily Astrology & Adventure, describing the helpless feeling that I think most of us have when we’re considering how serious the world situation is. Some names came to mind of people who were not scared or paralyzed, but rather who viewed the future as an opportunity to do things better.

Buckminster Fuller developed and refined the geodesic dome during the summers of 1948 and 1949, when he worked at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Image from BMC.

One man who saw what was coming and was unfazed by the looming crisis of too-rapid growth, dwindling resources and overcrowding was Buckminster Fuller. I linked to his Wiki page, and for the next couple of days, I mentioned his name around my neighborhood. I could only find one or two people who had even heard of him — and neither knew who he was or what he contributed.

Imagine if a scientist from late in the 21st century dropped in on our lives today, and could see our current ecological and economic problems clearly, with the wisdom and sense of perspective of the future. Imagine that he knew the solutions as if they had already been worked out, and had withstood the test of time. That was Bucky Fuller.

He was born Friday, July 12, 1895, which makes tomorrow his 113th birth anniversary. He shares a birth year with Dane RudhyarRudolph Valentino, Jeddu Krishnamurti and Carl Orff. Oh, and J. Edgar Hoover, the eternal boss of the FBI. (This information was provided by cultural astrologer Nick Dagan Best.) The year of his birth was also the year of the first pre-discovery photograph of Chiron, which not surprisingly is one of the most interesting planets in his chart: a hint at the holistic consciousness to come, when Chiron was discovered in 1977 and the acceptance of Fuller’s ideas was at its peak.

Fuller was a Cancer with the Sun conjunct Jupiter. His job, as he viewed it, was to be a pragmatic steward of the world. He had large ideas; he was the grandfather of the sustainability movement. But while he was at it, he reinvented the world, proposing and designing such concepts as tsunami-resistant floating cities.

“I am not optimistic or pessimistic,” he wrote in 1983. “I feel that optimism and pessimism are very unbalanced. I am a very hard engineer. I am a mechanic. I am a sailor. I am an air pilot. I don’t tell people I can get you across the ocean with my ship unless I know what I’m talking about.” This to me is his Saturn in Scorpio talking: the sober recognition that engineers hold people’s lives in their hands, but also that mind is a malleable substance.

“Bucky’s foremost concern was to find ways to ‘do more with less’ and to use resources most efficiently to serve humanity,” according to Black Mountain College, where he taught in the summers of 1948 and 1949. “He invented the term ‘Spaceship Earth’ to encourage people to see the entire world as one interdependent system. During his life and career, Fuller was awarded 25 US patents, wrote 28 books, received 47 honorary doctorate degrees, circled the Earth 57 times consulting and lecturing, and received dozens of major architectural and design awards along with the prestigious Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in America.”

He also had the Sun conjunct asteroid Kassandra, recalling the myth about the prophetess who told the truth but nobody believed her. While he received considerable attention and appreciation for his work toward the end of his life, and even the US government experimented with his ideas, his vision for the future — the sum total of his contribution to what he called Spaceship Earth — largely goes unnoticed, unappreciated and unutilized.

Lately, though, his ideas are gaining attention once again. This is for one reason, as far as I can tell: we need him. And as the next decade unfolds, we will need him more every day, because he knew how to do more with less, such as less energy, less material resources and less waste.

Bucky Fuller’s invention, the two-bedroom Dymaxion House in the Henry Ford Museum. Nothing is wasted or superfluous. The cap on the roof of the house acts like a wind turbine to provide ventilation.

Everyone has seen at least one example of his engineering — the geodesic dome. They are all over the place, even in cities, drawn into the architecture of sports arenas and amusement parks, for example. There’s a huge one at Disney World (really a sphere), and you might run into one at a Botanical Gardens somewhere.

We might be inclined to think that, like the wheel, these domes were invented too long ago to remember who created it, or they are a kitsch reference to some science fiction scenario. While the dome was not invented by Fuller (rather, an engineer named Walther Bauersfeld at Carl Zeiss Laboratories came up with it early in the 20th century), it was named, developed and popularized by Fuller, who received a US patent for the concept. That patent was issued in 1954 at his second Saturn return, with a simultaneous Jupiter return and Mercury retrograde in Cancer — a positively strange replay of his birth astrology.

Fuller was in Kindergarten when he discovered that triangles were more stable than squares; tetrahedrons more stable than cubes. This is the basis of the geodesic dome. Fuller has the asteroid Child exactly conjunct Uranus, the planet of inventions, and apparently he started young.

“The teacher brought in toothpicks and semi-dried peas and told the class to build structures. With his bad eyesight, Bucky saw bulks and had no feeling for structural lines. The other children formed cubes because they were familiar with houses and barns. Fuller relied on different senses and he discovered that the triangle (or tetrahedron) held its shape the best. Tetrahedrons were far more stable than the fragile squares that the other children made. His teacher called everyone around to see the unexpected shape. Bucky was surprised that they were surprised,” according to the classic story, told by Fuller and here stated in the words of Doug Yurchey.

Though Fuller is known mostly for the geodesic dome, his inventions reached into every area of life. He concerned himself with inventing comfortable, lightweight housing and with transportation. For example, in 1933 he invented a three-wheeled aerodynamic car that could carry 11 people, travel 130 miles per hour and got 30 miles per gallon. An accident during a demonstration at the 1933 World’s Fair killed the driver, and the idea along with it (though banks and Chrysler were involved in nixing the idea as well). Today, an average of 41,000 people die each year in four-wheel cars in the United States alone, making this one accident seem statistically irrelevant. It’s an idea we might want to revisit, since soon we will be reminiscing about the quaint old days of $5 a gallon fuel and even the biggest, best SUV only gets less than half the gas mileage and holds half the number of passengers.

Dymaxion car could carry 11 people, got 30 miles to the gallon and could go 130 miles per hour. Tell that to an SUV!

“There are over two million cars standing in front of red lights with their engines going,” Fuller wrote in 1981, shortly after the famous energy crisis of the Carter administration. “Then we have over two million times approximately 100 horsepower being generated as they are idling there, so that we have something like 200 million horses jumping up and down and going nowhere. Now, we have to count that in our economy when we begin to get down to what is the efficiency of the economy.”

Let’s take a closer look at Fuller’s chart and see if we can find any clues about these ideas.

To me the first thing that really stands out — once you get past the Sun/Jupiter/Kassandra conjunction in Cancer, and his friendly Pisces Moon, is that Bucky had Mercury retrograde. It was retrograde in Cancer, square Chiron, a setup that might make you wonder if the person can do anything other than feel; that is, whether they can even think at all. This is the image of someone who dances to the beat of his own drummer (a classical interpretation of Mercury retrograde), but it’s also the picture of someone who intuits his ideas rather than thinks them. This is a little like Einstein (another strong watery type, with Cancer rising and a Pisces Sun).

The retrograde and its position in Cancer gives us a clue as to Fuller’s well-known need to be recognized as a genius by those around him. I called up my old friend and teacher Dave Roell at the Astrology Center of America a moment ago and he commented, “It’s about looking for someone to say you’re okay.” However, it speaks volumes about how environmentally sensitive he was; and why he felt that we had to change the environment rather than change ourselves, or rather, as a means to changing ourselves.

Mercury is in a close conjunction with the asteroid Niobe. In the Greek myths, Niobe is known as one who was proud of her 14 offspring, even considering herself superior to Leto, who had birthed the twins Apollo and Artemis (the Sun and Moon). Martha Lang-Wescott writes in The Orders of Light, “The essence of Niobe’s lesson can be found where there is pride and ego investment in fertility, virility, ancestry, creativity or creative products” — but she says it goes a lot further.

The Young Buck.

In Cancer, with Mercury so prominent, this is emotionally motivated. Retrograde, Mercury amounts to a need for nurturing as a child, or a calling to master the lesson of self-nourishment. We might ask, “Well what else is new on the planet?” but Bucky seems to have turned that around into a passionate drive to take care of the world. (Ceres in the first degree of Capricorn, square the Aries Point, is another illustration of this need to nourish others with his practical concepts.)

His Mercury placement, which creates a kind of intellectual insecurity, served as a driving force, and appropriately enough, it is retrograding into a close square with Chiron. I think of Mercury-Chiron contacts as having a savant quality. You think you’re less intelligent than you are; you have an intense mind, but sometimes it feels broken, and you can’t always see past the pseudo intellectual performances of the world, or you feel like a fake. (I don’t think Fuller had quite that problem, but like many people who get a lot done and make a real contribution, he clearly doubted himself more than you would imagine.)

Barbara Hand Clow observed Mercury-square-Chiron people tend to be highly intuitive, but also express a real degree of mental exactitude. She says some of them can basically manifest things with their minds. Fuller did plenty of that, working without a corporate-sponsored laboratory, a benefit enjoyed by many modern inventors.

Opposite that, Mercury is the asteroid Industria in Capricorn. He was not the darling of industry. His ideas were too efficient. Industry is about profit and waste. Fuller’s ideas centered on economy.

“Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we’ve been ignorant of their value.” He knew history. At one time, gasoline, benzene and chlorine were all considered industrial waste products.

Fuller was born in the late 19th century, at the tail end of the Pluto-Neptune conjunction. In our era of history, there have been three notable outer planet conjunctions: Neptune conjunct Pluto in the 1890s; Uranus conjunct Pluto in the 1960s; and Uranus conjunct Neptune in the early 1990s. It is very unusual to have so many outer planet conjunctions so close together (in this case, within one century), and it speaks of the bizarre, even insane acceleration of “progress” that humanity is making in these decades.

Pluto takes the visionary and intuitive gift of Neptune and focuses it like a laser. Notably it is in Gemini, the sign of the mind. And along with Pluto, we have an extra message from the asteroid belt — Sphinx conjunct Pluto, exact to the degree. Pluto is an evolutionary driving force; indeed, the unstoppable force. Sphinx talks about a mystery that is too old to understand. Nobody even knows how old the Sphinx is; who put it there; what it means or what it’s for. To me the asteroid Sphinx points us to what we really cannot understand, but which is standing three steps outside our door.

So was Bucky a visitor from the past, or from the future? Or was he a sensitive guy with a great mind who, like other notable inventors (Ben Franklin comes to mind) was more interested in progress than in profits? “We are called to be architects of the future,” he once said, “not its victims.”

Yours & truly,
Eric Francis




Weekly Horoscope for Friday, July 11, 2008, #722 – By ERIC FRANCIS

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Events this week obviously seem like a conspiracy to pull you out of balance, or to somehow demonstrate to the world that you don’t exist. Beware of proving you exist by exerting your energy against something that seems intent on resisting you, or by resisting others for the sake of a fight. Whoever or whatever you’re tangling with may be involved precisely to prove that they exist, whether at your expense or their own. Shout it from the rooftops: we all exist, and we happen to do so in the same time and approximately the same space. Power struggles generally manifest when people are neglecting the more important items on their agenda; they provide a large diversion. We have a lot of work to do, here on the frontier of the third millennium. Project one is learning cooperation.

Taurus (April 19-May 20)
You are reaching the end of a cycle of experience that, if nothing else, has served to put you in contact with your feelings. You may not like those feelings; you may feel you have a lot of work to do, and you may feel like you don’t want to do it. How many adjustments can one person withstand? Well, the more you do, the easier it is, and we both know that your first priority in this lifetime is learning some flexibility. At the moment, your main spiritual assignment is to stay in contact with your feelings. From what I observe, people — not just men, by the way — tend to shrinkwrap themselves, hide, self-medicate or use isolation and/or denial as ways to simply avoid feeling. You know you want to feel safe. None of these things will help you feel safe; fortunately there are a lot of other options.

Gemini (May 20-June 21)
After much gnashing of teeth and sweating through your pillow once or twice this week, good financial news is on the way. Rather than coming as a check delivered to your front door (a distinct possibility), it may come in the form of something you discover about yourself; something obvious that you’ve probably noticed before but did not, until now, consciously recognize the value of. Ain’t that life? Well, please take advantage of it. You have invested far too much energy in a problem whose solution was gazing at you from its perch on the kitchen counter. Indeed, you have invested too much energy in believing that your problems really are problems. I know it feels that way, but I suggest you look around your life, and the world and notice: many people are facing truly serious issues that make your world seem like a coloring book.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
You may feel like you’re looking out at a world of null potential; of things that seem like possibilities that can get no actual results. There are times when the universe acts like a capacitor or a battery, storing up its charge, waiting for the moment to express all that energy. This is one of them. You need to bear with the mystery for a while, and it may be intense. Indeed, the wait will seem longer than it really is, though if you take your focus off of waiting and place it on what you want and need to be doing, you will make some discoveries that open your mind to what is possible. The past couple of months have been so inwardly focused for you, you’ve forgotten some of your favorite things in the physical world. I suggest you remember some of those right now, so when the cosmic energy moves in your direction, you will be able to at least meet it halfway and with an open mind.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
You may feel some old stories percolating to the surface — material dating back to around 1999. Even if not, I propose it’s time for the nine-year eclipse cycle reality check. August 1999 was meaningful because that’s when solar eclipses returned to your sign for the first time in 18 years. By an oddity in the Saros cycle (which tracks the pattern of eclipses), there were “missing Leo eclipses” in the early 1990s, and by late in the decade (when they returned) you were catapulted forward in ways that were unexpected, potentially unpleasant, but ultimately necessary. Now the cosmos is warming up for a new set of eclipses across Leo/Aquarius, which will move stuck energy for you, your partners, and for all the fixed signs. I suggest you set your own agenda for this event, rather than allowing your circumstances to set it for you. (Timeframe: less than three weeks.)

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
Mercury has changed signs for the first time in well over two months. If you have any of the same goals you had in early May, they are probably the right goals. That is to say, they endured the combined cyclone, tornado and aurora borealis of Mercury retrograde in your 10th solar house of goals and aspirations; they have withstood just about every trial and test that the Trickster himself could dole out, and he was being generous this time. You may feel more comfortable going public with your vocational goals, a comfort that eludes you most days of the week. But the point of doing something is not merely in the action, but also in the benefit that others may receive, and now you get to experiment with that phase of the journey. It comes and goes pretty quickly — so take advantage of it while it lasts.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
Developments the next few days may try your patience and stretch your capacity for compassion. This will pass as quickly as it came on, so I don’t suggest you invest too much energy in drama. Instead, invest in reflection and some healthy self-questioning. The focus, once again, is on your most important professional goals, and at the moment they seem to involve developing your talent as a communicator. Lately I meet very few people who admit any confidence at all about expressing ideas. But if you’re someone who gets bored in 10 minutes scanning through a thousand television channels, take that as encouragement. You make sense; you have ideas; a little reflection is all it should take to help you focus your message. And if you have many messages, take them one at a time.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
Now that Mercury has finally made it into your empathic water sign Cancer, you may find it easier to express yourself in a situation that has proven to be persistently difficult to have any clarity at all. Most of that involved not knowing where you stand emotionally; you have quite possibly spread the vibes to someone or two important around you, who have been just as confounded about where they stand with you as you are with them. As you are now discovering, the deeper material is a matter of feelings and not of ideas. True, Scorpio is a water sign and you’re presumably  adept at emotions, but I don’t find that a meaningful assumption. Sensitivity to feelings comes to those who are reflective, and who are open to their inner truth. I will leave you with one clue: it’s not something you can argue about.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
The universe is in the mood to give, if you are in the mood to receive. I suggest you set aside your abundant skepticism and open your mind to what is possible. You’ve seen lately how meaningless the concept of “impossible” is, when you and others are determined to hold up a vision for what you want or need, then act on it. You may be presented with an opportunity to enter an agreement or make a commitment. I suggest you judge the arrangement on one criteria: how well everyone involved benefits. We are past the time when any agreement or arrangement can benefit one person or group at the expense of others; certainly you are in a moment where you can fully embrace the idea of a win-win situation. I suggest you settle for nothing less.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
Pay attention to what information comes your way this week. It may be in the form of words spoken, an email addressed to you or something you see flipping through the channels at 2 a.m. One sentence could hold the key to a problem or situation you’ve grappled with for the past couple of months, and the effects could be far-reaching, extending significantly beyond your personal sphere of influence. If a person — probably a coworker or employee — offers you the idea, I suggest you take the time to investigate how they came to make that observation or reach that conclusion, and learn something about both your thought process and their own. Ask yourself how you missed something so obvious — and pay attention to what else you may be missing.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
There are times when you work out a deal with a short conversation and a handshake and other times when you do it with a hot iron and a hammer. I propose that what’s been happening this week is more of the hammer variety. You know this is not your style, but when someone plays hardball with you, you either play hardball right back or get clocked on the head with a fast pitch. Note that over the past 24 hours, you’ve gained a distinct advantage in a situation where previously you seemed to have none at all. Now you must use this advantage to your own benefit, remembering that as an Aquarius it is rare that you benefit in a way that does not truly serve everyone around you. Not everyone has this particular charm about them, and there are times when it works for you better than at others. Anyway, if somebody has been acting as your adversary in a situation involving a contract or agreement, they have less wind in their sails than they did 10 minutes ago, and it’s showing no signs of picking up.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
I trust that by now you’ve noticed the value of letting people have their problems, and not making them your own. Usually they have worked hard to create them, and they tend to value them like dwarves hoard gold and jewels. Sooner or later, most people figure out that they don’t need their problems, but there is only so much you can help them with that. As for what you need, in a word, it is focus. Focus is clarity; focus is the ability to tune into a plane of reality (a focal plane) and see what is going on there. Most of the time, you see most clearly what you look at most directly. I suggest that you initiate a new cycle of experience in your relationships, and focus on people who are not so devoted to their negativity; people who speak in terms of what they are creating rather than what they are critiquing; people who know that freedom is not a game, and if it is, it’s one we either win or lose together.

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