Tag Archives: Buckminister Fuller

Critical Path

July is gone, and the pecans
have now begun to set
on the old tree along the bayou;
sometimes, we forget
the simple things that mark the seasons.

We’ve no need of clocks
or calendars. Whatever reasons
we invent to block
the infinite expanse of time
into convenient lengths
quite often rob us of our prime
and downplay our great strengths:
such as the art of observation,
which serves to remind
us that the root of our frustration
is failure to find
the purpose for our human lives
in seeking power and might,
whereby our cause alone survives,
and therefore is proved right.

That humans are endowed with minds,
foremost, and only minor brawn,
should give us pause, and some new kind
of goal to focus on:
like seeking prominence through thought,
and sharing of that wealth
by proving wrong what we are taught
that profits just ourselves.

for R. Buckminster Fuller

31 JUL 2005

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Cummings on Poetry

A tag line on a message from a discussion group included part of a quote from e.e. cummings that I have tacked on my wall to remind me of what I’m supposed to be doing as a poet.

I first encountered it, strangely enough, in the foreward to Critical Path written by R. Buckminster Fuller. He found inspiration in this simple set of instructions, and so do I.

A Poet’s Advice

A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feelings through words. This may sound easy. It isn’t.

A lot of people think or believe or know they feel — but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling — not knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people; but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.

To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — menas to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn’t a poet can possibly imagine. Why? Because nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time — and whenever we do it, we are not poets.

If at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you find you’ve written one line of one poem, you’ll be very lucky indeed.

And so my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning how to blow up the world — unless you’re not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die.

Does this sound dismal? It isn’t. It’s the most wonderful life on earth.

Or so I feel.

— e.e. cummings

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Building Around a Thing

“I know it when I see it,” said the man
who vainly tried conveying truth to friends.
“When it is absent, the space that it leaves
unfilled describes it clearly, end to end;

and though there are no words to put it plain,
nor etchings I could render without flaw,
there is a quality about a thing
that you would grasp at once, if you just saw.”

“Alas,” replied one listener, “when you speak,
I can appreciate your sense of it;
it vibrates through your being with each word,
as if using yourself as conduit;

but sadly, in the context of your speech,
the futile nature of your quest is seen –
to clothe in logic’s frame that beyond reach
one must assume a great deal in between.”

“And, too,” answered another, “there is this:
that beauty is too frequently construed
to be only one aspect of the whole:
the menu, presentation, or the food;

but when it crosses our familiar lines
and cannot be contained in narrow themes,
the most common reaction is disdain.
We dare not seek for substance in our dreams

beyond those limits, set and firm, agreed
by all to guide where useful knowledge ends.
True, by this means we seem to guarantee
that we are not evolving.” “It depends,”

the first man answered, holding up a rose.
“There are some constants, in spite of our toil
to obfuscate our instinct’s depth of field.
At some point, reason’s gifts begin to spoil

and eat away at simple, common joy.
We lose that sense of awe, and we are doomed
to live as if machines, devoid of cause,
the boxes that we build ourselves, our tombs.

23 APR 2004

When I am working on a problem
I never think about beauty.
I only think about
how to solve the problem.
But when I have finished;
if the solution is not beautiful;
I know it is wrong.

— Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983)

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Seed Thought on Wealth

Money is not wealth. Wealth is the accomplished technological ability to protect, nurture, support, and accommodate all growful needs of life. Money is only an expediency-adopted means of interexchanging disparately sized, nonequatable items of real wealth. — R. Buckminister Fuller, Critical Path

How wealthy are you? What is your treasure? I know that sometimes I think I have so little to work with; and yet, in the overall scheme of things I have indeed an abundance. And what we have, that is what we have to give.

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