GENERAL: R.B. Fuller.

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Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1993 20:33:57 EDT
From: leo elliott <[email protected]>
Subject: evaluating Fuller
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Thanks to Alex and to Kirby for some interesting commentary on RBF.

The task of trying to retrospectively assess the esteem with which Fuller
was actually held, compared to that "persecuted prophet" perspective which
permeates his texts, is difficult. Certainly, if one is to believe the tale
of his 1927 Lake Michigan encounter (where he "heard the voice"), one could
say he was at some "critical points" along his own personal critical path.
Personally, I can not imagine a tragedy more severe than the loss of a child
to disease at an early age, sufficient to prompt such suicidal approaches.
(IOW, the aura surrounding his early life, to me, seems genuine enough;
one of the first "wild men" of Maine, who happened to be masquerading as
a Yankee technocrat!)

What I have often wondered about is how did Anne Hewlett put up with this
guy?! -- As much as I think I know about Fuller, as little do I know about
her; what would be especially intriguing is to recreate some of their
"post-conversion" experiences, during the two or so years RBF claimed he did
not speak to another human save his wife. ("I do not care that I am not
understood, as long as I am not misunderstood.")

To take Fuller at his word, that he wanted to live, by design, fifty years
ahead of his time (that being the longest time-lag, existing in the housing
industry, between the inception of an idea and its practical application),
one might hypothesize that Fuller was simply good at self-promoting his
novel technologies, which often appeared as self-promotion of his intellect,
especially since some of his technologies were being designed for materials,
or social systems, which had yet to come to pass.

This business of self-promotion would certainly make him a fit with Werner
Erhard, from what I have been able to make of the man and his movement.
(btw, I am a more recent graduate of the kinder, gentler est, now the Forum,
run by Landmark Ed. out of Alexandria, VA; last I heard Werner was off in
Russia, drumming up new business, and letting his reputation get settled
here in the states). I have an old Crawdaddy magazine account of the great
encounter between the two magnates of consciousness, and the somewhat
skeptical writer definitely presents Erhard as one who is trying to cop a
hit off Fuller's prestige; hard to imagine, but if the account is correct,
Erhard backs down from Fuller when Fuller disagrees with the est-imation
that brain=mind.

I find it also interesting that, even now, the Forum-est, like Scientology,
is billed as a "technology" (vs. what?, a psychotherapy?, a
pyramid-marketing scheme?).

However I would take issue with Alex' statement that "There was a huge
difference between the read Fuller and the performed Fuller" -- I think that
it is possible to see a great deal of similarity. While I only saw Fuller
live one time in my life, which conforms to Alex' trope of "exhausted but
exhilirated, dazzled by his vision and enthusiasm", I have several days of
tapes, which, perhaps because they are more controllable than a stage
presentation, permit a closer look at the visionary language and how he
constructed these scenarios, and also permit of less exhaustion, coming as
the tape casette does, in controllable dosage.

However, my point is that serious concentration on some of Fuller's texts
has at times led to exhaustion as well; I am reminded of a picture in
Applewhite's "Cosmic Fishing" supposedly depicting a galley proof of a page
from one of Fuller's books, supposedly ready for typesetting, in which
Fuller practically rewrote the entire text in the margins. His seemingly
off-the-wall ("precessional") spinoffs in his oral deliveries are similar,
imo, to the tangential approach Fuller used in many of his texts, to
illustrate some common theme or idea. Whilst it may appear, to the casual
observer, as stream-of-consciousness writing OR speaking (and mind you, I'm
not saying it wasn't -- in fact, I've often wondered, in my more mystical
moments, if RBF wasn't chanelling some Ancient of Days up there on stage!
;)) -- despite the appearance of stream-of-consciousness, I've found a great
sense of awe, at times, at being brought back, completely from left field,
to the starting point of the argument. The great Ah-haaa...

This probably is simply a further elaboration of one of Alex' tropes here,
but so be it. I find it interesting that he seems to have generated so
little residual skepticism amongst the skeptic community (perhaps I have
missed some things?) and that his reputation as the humanitarian-philosopher
inventor does indeed seem to be going gently into the night. Of course, the
Fullerenes could do wonders for his prophet status as well.

Random access,

Leo Elliott
Charlottesville, VA
[email protected]
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