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Utopia or Oblivion: The Prospects for Humanity [Paperback]

R. Buckminster Fuller , Jaime Snyder
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)


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July 15, 2008 3037781270 978-3037781272 1

Buckminster Fuller (1895–1983) was an architect, engineer, geometrician, cartographer, philosopher, futurist, inventor of the famous geodesic dome, and one of the most brilliant thinkers of his time. For more than five decades, he set forth his comprehensive perspective on the world’s problems in numerous essays, which offer an illuminating insight into the intellectual universe of this renaissance man. These texts remain surprisingly topical even today, decades after their initial publication.

While Fuller wrote the works in the 1960’s and 1970’s, they could not be more timely: like desperately needed time-capsules of wisdom for the critical moment he foresaw, and in which we find ourselves. Long out of print, they are now being published again, together with commentary by Jaime Snyder, the grandson of Buckminster Fuller. Designed for a new generation of readers, Snyder prepared these editions with supplementary material providing background on the texts, factual updates, and interpretation of his visionary ideas.

Initially published in 1969, and one of Fuller’s most popular works, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth is a brilliant synthesis of his world view. In this very accessible volume, Fuller investigates the great challenges facing humanity, and the principles for avoiding extinction and “exercising our option to make it”. How will humanity survive? How does automation influence individualization? How can we utilize our resources more effectively to realize our potential to end poverty in this generation? He questions the concept of specialization, calls for a design revolution of innovation, and offers advice on how to guide “spaceship earth” toward a sustainable future.

And it Came to Pass – Not to Stay brings together Buckminster Fuller’s lyrical and philosophical best, including seven “essays” in a form he called his “ventilated prose”, and as always addressing the current global crisis and his predictions for the future. These essays, including “How Little I Know”, “What I am Trying to Do“, “Soft Revolution”, and “Ethics”, put the task of ushering in a new era of humanity in the context of “always starting with the universe”. In rare form, Fuller elegantly weaves the personal, the playful, the simple, and the profound.

Utopia or Oblivion is a provocative blueprint for the future. This comprehensive volume is composed of essays derived from the lectures he gave all over the world during the 1960’s. Fuller’s thesis is that humanity – for the first time in its history – has the opportunity to create a world where the needs of 100% of humanity are met. This is Fuller in his prime, relaying his urgent message for earthians critical moment and presenting pioneering solutions which reflect his commitment to the potential of innovative design to create technology that does “more with less” and thereby improves human lives . . . “This is what man tends to call utopia. It’s a fairly small word, but inadequate to describe the extraordinary new freedom of man in a new relationship to universe - the alternative of which is oblivion.” Buckminster Fuller.


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About the Author

Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) architect and philosopher

Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Lars Müller Publishers; 1 edition (July 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3037781270
  • ISBN-13: 978-3037781272
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 4.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,501,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ahh Bucky, What Became of Your Kind? May 22, 2009
Format:Paperback
In its day (1969-72, when I first read it), this was one of those inspirational heartbreakers -- why can't EVERYONE see the promise of the approaching possible Golden Era? But with time (what, over 35 years now, since I first read it) even the great futurist himself seems a little dated. And I'd forgotten (or never really noticed before) how angry he could get, and not just at the Great Pirates who well deserve(d) it (especially considering recent economic news), but for those who had slighted him in the past as a gadfly of sorts. These lectures/expositions are a series of previously-published papers, and there is a lot of redundancy, but the basic question ("It's up to us, do we want to succeed or fail?") still rings true. And some of his ideas, like the World-Wide Electrical Power Grid, and the end of the Nation-States were absolutely brilliant in their foresight. The bottom line, however, and what I think will be his legacy, is to look at the world not only differently (the sun doesn't set, the world turns), but holistically (there is no up and down, only in and out)... and how about those buckminsterfullerene molecules -- they will change the world. We'll miss your kind, Bucky... we already do. (As a side note, I got to shake hands and speak briefly with Bucky after his Earth Day speech at Florida State University in 1974[?], just as the sun went down, and it still brings a tear to my eye to recall how both intelligent and innocent he was at the same time.)
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So what went wrong? October 21, 2008
Format:Paperback
In the 1960's, Buckminster Fuller lectured to anyone who would listen (and he had no trouble getting speaking engagements around the world) that shipbuilders, and then aircraft engineers, aerospace engineers, electronics engineers and companies in the business of building advanced weapon systems, had stumbled across principles for doing more with less, a trend he called "ephemeralization," which squeezed ever higher performances out of every pound of resources. By bringing the obsolete versions of these technologies onto the civilian market while going on to the next technological frontiers, these companies had inadvertently raised humanity's economic efficiency and started the process of overcoming traditional Malthusian limits. Fuller estimated that only 1 percent of humanity could live "successfully" on a physical level before the 20th Century because of the inefficient use of resources, but because of ephemeralization, by the 1960's the percentage of successful humanity had reached into the 40's. Fuller then argued (over and over again, which makes this book a bit repetitive) that a "design science revolution" led by 1960's college students could bypass political barriers and in a decade or so bring this level of success to "100 percent of humanity," even with population growth, which Fuller expected would stop once everyone became sufficiently affluent.

Well, 40 years have passed since then. We still don't have anything near "100 percent of humanity" living as a physical success despite enormous economic growth since then (and many countries have slipped backwards), so what happened to all those trends Fuller claimed he identified from the scapbooks he kept and called his Chronofile?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Genius October 21, 2012
Format:Paperback
This is one of the greatest books you will ever read. He is one of the most important figures of the 20th century only surpassed by Nikola Tesla. This book will open your eyes to so many things of science, politics, ecology, economics & much more. It is so profound & important I think it should be required reading for all politicians, all involved in academia & a must read for all High School & University students.

Richard Buckminster Fuller is a University to himself. I highly recommend everybody to watch on youtube his series of lectures "Everything I Know", they are from 2-3 hours each, & you'll learn more from him than probably anywhere or anybody else in your life. I discovered him later in life & wish I could have discovered him earlier. This man is a treasure chest of wisdom, profound empirical knowledge & overall supreme intellect he will blow your mind. He is a Demigod.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars FULLER -- Utopia or Oblivion April 16, 2009
By L.Verde
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Series of Essays. I was mostly interested in the title essay. Fuller is circuitous and long-winded with a few good "kernels" hidden within :-)
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