Bucky Fuller

Subject: Bucky Fuller
From: Eric Somers (somers@sunydutchess.edu)
Date: Mon Jul 19 1999 - 00:28:42 EDT

Dennis Bathory-Kitsz wrote:
> But in truth, like Fuller -- and don't forget that, despite his
>achievements, he was a consummate academic --

I am not sure how we should regard Buckminster Fuller as a "consumate
academic"? True, after he made some innovative inventions he was asked,
later in his life, to teach at a variety of schools. But he never earned
any college degrees (having been expelled from Harvard twice) and his books
and ideas were at first pooh-poohed by academics because he dared to
produce designs for buildings and dwellings without earning degrees from
the academic architectural establishment or even respecting their long
established values. (This seems an apt parallel to whole PAE flap.) He
was never a "team" player and refused to play by any rules other than his
own. (And I say this as an admirer of Fuller and one who has talked with
him personally.) As a young man he seemed to be the same kind of
self-taught academic outsider that some of the PAE winners this year are.

Kodwo Eshun is hardly non-academic having been, I am led to believe, Oxford
trained. Although I don't really want to put words into the mouth of those
who have passed on, I can't help feel that if Fuller was still with us and
participating in this list he would come down on the side of the PAE
judges. After all, he too was a "sixties" person who, like Marshall
McLuhan, might have been overlooked as a minor figure but for the mentality
of the sixties which turned both men into cultural icons. This argument has
been made first by others about Fuller and McLuhan, I am only repeating it.
I was personally acquainted with both men (McLuhan more than Fuller, though).

I realize this was a minor aside to your major discussion, Dennis (which I
can respect though I still do not exactly agree with), but I do feel that
calling Fuller an "academic" in the context of the current discussion about
the PAE misrepresents his record of challenge to academic "authority."

- Eric

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