Last month 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. 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 a 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 the late 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, so his 113th birth anniversary just passed last month. He shares a birth year with Dane Rudhyar, Rudolph Valentino, Jeddu Krishnamurti, and Carl Orff. Oh, and J. Edgar Hoover, the eternal boss of the FBI. The year of his birth was also the year of the first prediscovery 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 have been 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.
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 garden 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.