You don’t think Buckminster Fuller’s idea that the problem is just one of mismanagement and lack of distribution and lack of intelligent use of the available energy makes sense?
GB:I don’t really believe that, no. Because I don’t think the problem is primarily an energy problem. I think it is much more a minor constituents problem. All the other things you need in your food besides calories, practically every element in the table: vitamins, phosphorus, mineral components, so on. These are much more awkward than energy.
And that has to do with complexity.
GB:Has very much to do with complexity, has to do with things being in a scattered state in the world. What we do is to comb the surface and concentrate them. Then having concentrated them, we put them in places where we will never be able to get them back again.
In that light, can you relate Buckminster Fuller to the notion of purpose?
GB:I can relate Buckminster Fuller very easily to the notion of purpose. Have you ever worked on geodesic domes?
Yes, they leak.
GB:They leak, that’s right. Why do they leak? Because they are much too purposive. Because they’ve got no tolerance. The only purpose of a dome is to be a dome.
The people who build them think their purpose is good residence.
GB:I know all that, but Bucky doesn’t have any idea what living in something is like.
After all, he lives in airplanes, he says.
GB:That’s probably right. But those bloody domes are a very good paradigm for the whole of engineering adaptation.
You might be interested to know that one of the fellows who developed the dome idea at first and who published a number of books, gave it up completely, and went through a long drawn-out ethnological survey of living quarters all over the world, and has decided that the whole approach was much too schematic.
GB:Much too schematic. Straw is much better material to make houses with. Straw and mud make quite good houses.
(A Conversation with Gregory Bateson. Loka: A Journal of Naropa Institute (1975) Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday)