Although the Zeitgeist Movement just selected Buckminster Fuller’s 1981 classic Critical Path as the first book of the month in its new Book of the Month initiative, the question many people will ask is, “why is Critical Path more important than ever?” According to Fuller, the only real answer is to trust your personal experience above all else, which means reading the book and deciding for yourself.
There are some simple clues to be found in a quick scan of Critical Path. It begins with the book’s Foreword, which – in typical Fuller fashion – he wrote himself. In the first sentence, Bucky admonishes us that “the words good and bad are meaningless.” Following this nonjudgmental path, he goes on to point out that in our relative reality, we must have opposites. Thus, bad cannot exist without good. Still, on the first page of the Foreword, he goes on to astound the reader by stating that unity is plural and at minimum sixfold. He had previously been quoted as saying, “Unity is plural and at minimum two,” which is a bit easier to understand.
He then shares the premise of the book and his entire adult life when he writes, “What I am trying to do is to discover why God included humans in Universe.” Simple stuff. Bucky devoted his life to a personal “56 Year Experiment” in which he sought to determine and document what one individual can achieve, and he shares most of what he learned throughout Critical Path. Thus, it serves as a template for looking into what each of us can contribute to the world while discovering why we are here.
And in Critical Path, Bucky speaks directly to each of us as readers; meticulously laying out what we need to do and how to do it – as both individuals and as a global society – in order to survive and thrive in what he describes on page one of the Introduction (also written by Bucky) when he writes,
“Humanity is moving ever deeper into crisis – a crisis without precedent.”
Fuller began to recognize, understand and analyze this global crisis in 1934 when he started an inventory of all the world’s resources. He then realized that we were moving deeper into a crisis that could only be solved by a design science revolution, which included the welfare of all sentient beings as its objective. That revolution went well beyond technological innovation because Fuller realized that we need to work on internal and external reality, and he used classic science to describe both realms of existence.
On page three of the Foreword, he explicitly explains the four reasons he wrote Critical Path. They are:
A) The knowledge in Critical Path is essential to human survival.
B) Humanity will become extinct if he (and all other people) do not step up and tell the truth as we know it.
C) Because he knew that our survival no longer depends on politics, religion, economics or social organizations.
D) Because he knew that our survival depends on
1) Each person’s intuitive wisdom.
2) Each person being comprehensively informed.
3) Each person speaking and acting from her or his intuitive reasoned integrity.
4) Each person joining in action with others when it feels right to do so.
5) Each person not joining in action because of fear or pleasing a crowd of others.
Thus, we have Bucky’s context for the next 300 plus pages of analysis, explanation and instruction in begin human during this precarious period of history. These words are even more relevant than they were three decades ago because we’ve failed to heed them, and we now find ourselves farther down the rabbit hole of extinction than we were when Bucky said we have ten years to change the course of our action and follow the critical path that he outlines in this book.
Reading Critical Path is not something to be taken on lightly. It’s best “studied” in a group, which seems to help decipher Bucky’s paragraph-long sentences and preponderance of hyphenated words. The following is one example from the Critical Path Introduction:
“… we are in an unprecedented crisis because cosmic evolution is also irrevocably intent upon making omni-integrated humanity omnisuccessful, able to live sustainingly at an unprecedentedly higher standard of living for all Earthians than has ever been experienced by any; able to live entirely within its cosmic-energy income instead of spending its cosmic-energy savings account (i.e., the fossil fuels) or spending its cosmic-capital plant and equipment account (i.e., atomic energy) – the atoms with which our Spaceship Earth and its biosphere are structured and equipped – a spending folly no less illogical than burning your house-and-home to keep the family warm on an unprecedentedly cold midwinter night.”
One sentence that tells it all – after you spend some time dissecting and deciphering it. And Critical Path is filled with such tomes. Thus, you would do well to embark on this book slowly with thoughtful companions. Following Bucky’s path in this way will, however, provide you with insights and delights that can only be found if one is willing to take the time and make the effort.
If you’re looking for a bit easier entry into Bucky Fuller and his work try Buckminster Fuller’s Universe and / or A Fuller View in addition to delving into Critical Path.
May we all find our personal and societal critical path in order to manifest Bucky’s vision of “a world that works for everyone.”