“Call me trimtab’’
Sunday afternoon in San Francisco, May 20, 2007
Just a few weeks ago, in response to a straightforward question from my zen teacher, I circuitously stumbled across the work and thought of Bucky Fuller. 25 or more years ago, I spent a weekend in a hotel ballroom with him and 200 others. I can still recall the light of his presence. A few years ago, at the Project Artaud Theater, I was again stunned by his originality and the depth of his insight on one of multiple visits to a one man show, “R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe” by D.W. Jacobs.
Though I might have put Bucky aside, I was more than happy to revisit and rediscover his Universe.
Today in a world once again torn by war, I read what he wrote 67 years ago and was very moved. For me, if I am honest with myself, Baghdad is really an abstraction, not the horror it is to the families of killed soldiers, innocent men and women caught in the cross fire, or Jihadists with a cause to die for. I have been in a”froth-spitting squall on Long Island Sound,” but I never been to the kind of War as the Second Great War, nor Viet Nam, not even an ill-advised invasion. Still “in the face of what is involved,” I am struggle for an adequate response.
I reproduce some of Bucky’s words here, not only the famous “God is a verb” passage, but a portion of the rest to create some context and because I like it. There is much more if you care to read. His books are available from the Institute that bears his name, and, in a few days, I will also include them on my bibliography page.
from NO MORE SECONDHAND GOD
by R. Buckminster Fuller
(April 9, 1940)
I am just sitting here
for one of the many reasons
people find themselves passionately isolated.
(The cause is rarely noble.)
In the midst of my overly
I say, suddenly,
(as most of us do):
imagine, realize, the preposterousness of your chagrin
in the face of what is involved
in the newspaper headline
on the chair over there.
OSLO KEY BASES TAKEN BIG SEA AIR BATTLES ON
World Telegram 7th Sports.
It’s no longer a phoney war
but I don’t think about that
nor do I think much about Oslo.
I think of such of aviators and sailormen as
are in command of their faculties
on both sides at this moment.
Though you have been out in
a froth-spitting squall
on Long Island Sound or
in an ocean liner on a burgeoning sea
you have but a childlike hint of
what a nineteen-year-old’s reaction is
to the pitch black shrieking dark out there
in the very cold northern elements
of unloosening spring
off Norway’s coast
15,000 feet up
or fifty under or
worse, on the smashing face of it and
here I see God.
A sufficient light within
a seemingly opaque back object
may suddenly convert that object
into a brilliant vari-colored lantern.
Here is God’s purpose-
for God, to me, it seems,
is a verb
not a noun,
proper or improper;
is the articulation
not the art, objective or subjective;
not the abstraction “love” commanded or entreated;
is knowledge dynamic,
not legislative code
not proclamation law,
not academic dogma, nor ecclesiastic cannon.
Yes, God is a verb,
the most active,
connoting the vast harmonic
reordering of the universe
from unleashed chaos of energy.
And there is born unheralded
a great natural peace,
not out of exclusive
but out of including, refining, dynamic balancing.
Naught is lost.
Only the false and nonexistent are dispelled.
And I’ve thought through to tomorrow
which is also today.
The telephone rings
and you say to me
Hello Buckling this is Christopher; or
Daddy it’s Allegra; or
Mr. Fuller this is the Telephone Company Business Office;
and I say you are inaccurate.
Because I knew you were going to call
and furthermore I recognize
that it is God who is “speaking.”
And you say
aren’t you being fantastic?
And knowing you I say no.
That is the active, realistic loving
of this one moment in all time.