wk13 reading response

Universal Architecture: Buckminster Fuller

I would like to talk about Buckminster Fuller’s notion of Universal Architecture as humanity’s supreme survival gesture.  He makes two remarks that seem to speak to each other, but also delineates his thoughts on evolutionary biology and the future of life.

“The whole composition should never be dependent on the relative success of any one unit; and, or positively stated, all units should be independently (flexibly, angularly) aligned to the whole composition of structure, and therefore progressively replaceable by ever more adequate unit solutions, thus making for an evolutionary growth to an intellectually (selectively) refining totality… which later invokes revolutionary, and iconoclastic, replacements of ‘whole old composition’”.

“Life continuity via universal architecture [as an external mechanical aid, structure for survival].  The new universal architecture of a physical-intellectual-scientific external machine holds promise of accomplishing the life balance”.

It is obvious that Fuller is searching for an architecture or framework that might begin to ensure “life continuity”.  What I find so interesting is that he is choosing to do this through what he calls universal architecture.  This, to some degree, seems to go against principles we find in biology.  For instance, the principle of diversity, up to this point in history, has ensured evolution and survival.  Diversity allows for an efficient process of elimination, ensuring the most adept genes get passed to the next generation of species.  What Fuller seemingly suggests is going against the principle of diversity through what he has termed ‘universal architecture’.

I can fathom that what he really meant by universal architecture was not simply one physical solution meant to solve the complex myriad of issues we are faced with at any one time, but rather a universal way of addressing every problem we are faced with, through following principles of life, such as flexibility, adaptability, intelligence, etc.

These thoughts seem particularly suitable for slow evolution, and one might imagine the human race evolving quite nicely.  But looking at contemporary issues, such as nuclear warfare, climate change, solar degeneration, we should also consider how we might promote the continuity of life given catastrophic events that hold the potential to drastically change our environments over a short period of time.  I suppose Fuller alluded to this when he spoke of “external mechanical aid and structure for survival”, given the fact that humans may not be able to adapt internally at a pace fast enough to ensure our survival, therefore we rely on our intellect to promote life continuity.

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