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Buckminster Fuller on Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking

Following the 1975 publication of his book, Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking, Buckminster Fuller is interviewed by Charles Ruas, Louise Ballard, and Judith Flavel. During the interview the theorist defines “synergetics”. They also discuss contemporary concerns about privacy, the environment, outer space, the U.S. government, and his work with the dymaxion car and geodesic dome.

According to Fuller, it is the study or behavior of disparate systems of mathematics and science. In his book, he wrote that:

“Synergetics discloses the excruciating awkwardness characterizing present-day mathematical treatment of the interrelationships of the independent scientific disciplines as originally occasioned by their mutual and separate lacks of awareness of the existence of a comprehensive, rational, coordinating system inherent in nature.”

This field of study also lends itself to other ways of thinking about human relationships; which is exemplified when Fuller explains the different types of privacy encountered by human beings. He asserts that there are five ways that it can be measured, but all of which is necessitated by the need for physical privacy is a human invention and is born from the want to hide things. Fuller urges people to deviate from traditional “horizontal” lifestyles, in favor of more “multi-dimensional” ones.

R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) was an American visionary, primarily known for his architectural design contributions and environmental theories. A New England native and Harvard graduate, he spent his early years as an inventor in Chicago. In the midst of the Great Depression, he introduced his first prototype for the Dymaxion car. The three-wheeled automobile could hold 12 passengers and was faster and more fuel-efficient than the standard car. He went on to design the Dymaxion House and Geodesic Dome. A major influence on radical youth and young architects in the 1960s and 70s, he went on to pioneer the concept of “space-ship Earth” and was a forerunner in environmental activism. Fuller was awarded 28 U.S. patents and was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan, in 1983. He died four months later of a heart attack, at the deathbed of his wife.


Historic Audio from the Archives of Charles Ruas


An unparalleled collection of recovered and restored programs from the seventies produced by Charles Ruas, and featuring Allen Ginsberg, John Giorno, Anaïs Nin, William Boroughs, Buckminster Fuller, Sylvia Plath, Pablo Neruda, and Jorge Luis Borges, among numerous others.