Because Critical Path is one of Bucky Fuller's last major works (1981), it draws together many of his deepest ideas in a format where disparate projects developed over his life are juxtaposed and contextualized. The book demonstrates an inspiring scope of thought (for example: all of history, the generalized physics of the action-outcome nexus, the role of humans on Spaceship Earth). The entire pragmatic and paradigmatic notion of the book -- CRITICAL PATH -- is that the path we are on, is CRITICAL (in the sense of essential, important, phase-transitioning, skeptical, perilous, life-and-death, required....). Critical Path was written with a collaborator (Kiyoshi Kuromiya, on the book cover listed as an "Adjuvant"), so it is comprehensible despite its comprehensiveness.
I find Critical Path to be a relatively accessible and endlessly re-readable on-ramp to Fuller's body of work. It is a book that first introduced me to many ideas which continue to be influential in my thinking many years after first exposure (Synergetics, Tensegrity, Dymaxion, Geodesics, World Game, etc.). When reading the book, both at first & now, there are cases where I rankle at Fuller's claims, or can't decipher what is being conveyed by a sentence, or think a word is being used imprecisely, or have an alternative way of thinking about some topic. In all these cases, by observing my own psychological & conceptual responses to Fuller's singular body of work, I develop as a person and as a scientist. This type of influence between the reader and Fuller (perhaps as is the case for any writer read with the appropriate respect) is the kind that transcends all description, so Fuller's impact on a particular reader or the world cannot be stated.
Whether we like it or not, Spaceship Earth set sail long, long ago. What we are left to do now as individuals/Scientists, according to Fuller, is perform omnidirectional sense-making and be the small change that steers Spaceship Earth along the Critical Path, toward an ever-better vision for the future. Steering us all along that Critical Path, and being humble along the way, is what Bucky Fuller did with his unconventionally-experimental syntax and life ("Guinea Pig B" was what he called himself). It is why the gravesite distillation of his life is not a list of ideas, patents, books, frameworks, students, or service to America and the World -- it is the simple ask: “Call me Trimtab”.
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