In his 1970 book I Seem To Be a Verb, Buckminster Fuller wrote: “I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing—a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process—an integral function of the universe.”
Buckminster Fuller was a futurist, a designer, a scientific shaman, an architect, a writer, a genius. In many ways he reminds me of Carl Jung, his kindred spirit, in the depth and breadth, and fundamentally, in the originality and importance of his thinking, and of the ideas they have both entrusted with us.
I will quote several passages of the book: Metaphysics of Buckminster Fuller by Phillip M. Pierson. Pierson lists himself as a commentator. Most of the book is Buckminster Fuller in his own words, with commentary by Pierson. He interviewed Buckminster Fuller, “Bucky” as many knew him, in 1980 and he obviously has a great deal of respect and affection for Fuller and his ideas.
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that looks at the fundamental nature of reality. You can’t navigate the world or live your life without metaphysics. You either embrace a metaphysics consciously or unconsciously, but metaphysics is not optional.
Buckminster Fuller’s words are italicized in the following quotations, and all taken from Metaphysics of Buckminster Fuller. Fuller is not the easiest writer to follow. He creates his own words and he uses them liberally. He was thinking on the edge and it shows in his writing.
First, let’s begin with Bucky’s reminder that we are not individuals living a life that is being put before us in the world of space and solids. Rather, we are individuals who are all seeing not what is out there, but what is really inside of ourselves. There is a world “out there,” but on an individual basis it is all “inside us.” I find myself thinking of the couple of times I have testified in court; I was amazed that the others who testified saw the same thing I did, yet we “saw” it differently. We can better understand this when we realize it is not what was out there, but what is colored by our inside self that we actually saw. Bucky wrote: “To explain our sight, we call it ‘instantaneous.’ We say we can see instantaneously. This fact has misled us very greatly. You insist that you are seeing the black-and-white page of this book, do you not? You’re not. You have a brain-centered television set, and the light is bouncing off the page. The resultant comes back through your optical system and is scanned and actually goes back into the brain, and you are seeing the page in your brain. You are not seeing the page out in front of you. We have gotten used to the idea that we see outside of ourselves, but we just don’t do so. It only takes about a billionth of a second for the light to bounce off the page and get in the brain to be scanned, so the child is fooled into thinking that he is seeing outside of himself. And we are misinforming ourselves in discounting the lag and assuming that we see it “over there.’ No one has ever seen outside themselves.”
“What is really important, however, about you or me is the ‘thinkable you’ or the ‘thinkable me,’ the abstract metaphysical you or me, what we have done with these images, the relatedness we have found, what communications we have made with one another. We begin to realize that dimensions of the ‘thinkable you’ are phenomenal, when you hear Mozart on the radio, that is, the metaphysical—only intellectually identifiable—eternal Mozart who will always be there to any who hears his music. When we say ‘atom’ or think ‘atom’ we are intellect-to-intellect with livingly thinkable Democritus, who first conceived and named the invisible phenomenon ‘atom.’ Were exclusively tactile Democritus to be sitting next to you, surely you would not recognize him nor accredit him as you do the only-thinkable Democritus and what he thought about the atom. You say to me: ‘I see you sitting there.’ And all you see is a little of my pink face and hands and my shoes and clothing, and you can’t see ‘me,’ which is entirely the thinking, abstract, metaphysical me. It becomes shocking to think that we recognize one another only as the touchable, nonthinking biological organism and its clothed ensemble.”
“Recognized in these significant identification terms, there is quite a different significance in what we term ‘dead’ as a strictly tactile ‘thing,’ in contrast to the exclusively ‘thinking ‘ you or me. We can put the touchable things in the ground, but we can’t put the thinking and thinkable you in the ground. The fact that I see you only as the touchable you keeps shocking me. The baby’s spontaneous touching becomes the dominant sense measure, wherefore we insist on measuring the inches or the feet. We talk this way even though these are not the right increments. My exclusively tactile seeing inadequacy becomes a kind of warning, despite my only theoretical knowledge of the error of seeing you only as the touchable you. I keep spontaneously seeing the tactile living you. The tactile is very unreliable; it has little meaning. Though you know they are gentle, sweet children, when they put on Hallowe’en monster masks they ‘look’ like monsters. It was precisely in this manner that human beings came to err in identifying life only with the touchable physical, which is exactly what life isn’t.”
Fuller is making bold claims here and I agree with him. There is more to reality than the physical and in fact, fundamentally, the physical is not the most important portion of reality despite the dominant view of our senses and the culture. I’ve been inspired by his comprehensive view of our reality that articulates my own views. I’m beginning with my conclusions here and will circle back to provide a new view of reality, or rather one that does not match the current conventional view of the reality we find ourselves in. This circling back to expand and lay the foundation for my conclusions will come in future posts.
Science has become the Ouroboros and has discovered its own metaphysical tail, which is what I will be talking about in future posts. Reality cannot be explored or even perceived without metaphysics. That metaphysics can either be conscious, or as it is for most people in our culture, unconsciously accepted from that culture. Real consciousness has to begin with metaphysics, which is why so many scientists and philosophers are hostile to even the notion or relevancy of metaphysics. Metaphysics is often dismissed as speculation and essentially crazy ideas that have no bearing on “real” life. Much of that hostility arises because materialist science has such a hard time with consciousness. They either deny consciousness or claim it arose “somehow”.
But you can’t ignore metaphysics. Anyone who dismisses metaphysics is a person whose agenda is to put forth a metaphysics that they don’t want critically examined. Metaphysics comes before physics and physics must ultimately refer to metaphysics – always. In denying metaphysics as valid or important, many materialists, believing only in a physical reality, want us to embrace their metaphysics unconsciously and uncritically. It’s time for each one of us to reject that limitation imposed by some of the high priests of our culture. Each of us must explore and formulate a personal metaphysics – it is the ultimate foundation of our lives and cannot be left to chance or unthinking acceptance.
In later posts, I will provide a startling view of reality from a bona fide, credentialed scientist that provides a firm basis for embracing this new metaphysical view. But in reality, the new metaphysics is an embracing of an older metaphysics, but one that is broader and deeper. The Ouroboros finds its tail. But where does this metaphysics lead us? I’ll just hint at the conclusions for now.
Jung is really the first psychologist to penetrate and confront the metaphysical reality of our existence. To ignore this metaphysical reality is to ignore reality. A psychology that ignores this is arithmetic compared to the calculus of Carl Jung. That is why Jung is so dense and hard to encapsulate. Weaned on a view of reality mired in the physical, we seek answers using that simple arithmetic. We cannot understand the calculus Jung has set before us, using the tools of arithmetic.
Metaphysics cannot be ignored, but instead modern science has embraced a shallow metaphysics and much of psychology embraces that limited view. Jung could not. Jung did not. We cannot, if we are to evolve consciously, because we must recognize the broader metaphysical reality and work with that. Jung is the psychological metaphysician or the metaphysical psychologist. Either term applies to Jung, because since consciousness is primary, metaphysics and psychology are equivalent. They are the Möbius strip that has only one side. They cannot be separated. Metaphysics and psychology are one.
As an aside. I am finding that the Möbius strip is one of the most profound metaphors for many things in life. Things that appear to be dualistic are not, in the way they appear to be. I think this points to the ultimate unity of reality. Male – female is a duality that circles back on itself. Jung recognized the female aspect within the male and the male aspect within the female – the anima and the animus. I think the Möbius strip resembles the Ouroboros in a profound way. There is a simple video showing the Möbius strip. To make one, you simply take a longer strip of paper and tape the ends together, but you rotate one end 180 degrees and this gives you a one sided structure. If the paper is different colors on the two sides, you will see the two colors come together at the joint of course. If you start drawing a line along the strip your pen will eventually reach the beginning of the line without taking the pen off of the paper – one side from a two-sided piece of paper. For me, a profound metaphor. pointing to ultimate unity of two aspects of a whole.
Before Jung, many people hinted at this unity or took it for granted, but they did so unconsciously, without real awareness. They were fish unaware of the water. Moving forward and evolving required us to step out of this metaphysical reality into the current limited view. This limited view was a temporary necessity in our evolution that began with the enlightenment and scientific age. But for those who feel the constraints of this limited view, this view has became intolerable, and is becoming increasingly so. This is the itch inside of so many people. Jung felt this. Many people feel it. I feel it. But Jung had the courage and the supremely inquisitive and rigorous nature to move beyond the materialist metaphysics. It was inevitable that a genius would come along to do this. For whatever reason, this genius was Carl Gustav Jung. It is now our job to continue his work within ourselves to consciously engage with our metaphysical and psychological reality. But again, the Möbius strip analogy describes metaphysical reality. Inside and outside are the same, but given our biases that persist, we must direct our attention inward, which will inevitably lead outward as we travel the Möbius strip.
The journey starts within and the deeper one goes, the higher and further one travels.
“The task is . . . not so much to see what no one has yet seen; but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees. —Erwin Schrodinger
That is what Buckminster Fuller and Carl Jung did. I found this quotation by Erwin Schrodinger, a physicist and pioneer in quantum mechanics, in Metaphysics of Buckminster Fuller at the beginning of the chapter, The Big Picture. Reading that chapter made it clear to me that the brain is a tool of the mind, our consciousness, just as science is a tool of metaphysical psychology. These tools are indispensable but must always be used consciously, with explicit and implicit awareness of their limitations and profound skepticism for premature conclusions.
I will end, again with Buckminster Fuller:
If we take all that we have shared about reality seriously, it should cause us to change our thinking in many ways. Bucky was very clear in saying, like the Buddha, “wake up”—wake up to reality: “Humans still think in terms of an entirely superficial game of static things—solids, surfaces, or straight lines—despite that no things—no continuums—only discontinuous, energy quanta—separate even packages—operate as remotely from one another as the stars of the Milky Way. Science has found no ‘things’; only events. Universe has no nouns; only verbs. Don’t say self-comfortingly to yourself or to me that you have found the old way of getting along with false notions to be quite adequate and satisfactory. So was the old umbilical cord to your mother. But you can’t reattach it and your mother is no longer physically present. You can’t go back. You can’t stay put. You can only grow and, if you comprehend what is going on, you will find it ever more satisfactory and fascinating, for that is what evolution is doing, whether you think, ignorantly, that you don’t like it or do.”
As Buckminster Fuller and Carl Jung made clear, we cannot go back to older ways of looking at the world. We must embrace a new metaphysics – a new way of seeing our world. In future posts I will be setting out the profound reason why our metaphysics has been so limited and essentially wrong. We have been living in an illusion about our perception of reality, and there is a scientific theory that explains why there are powerful reasons to revise our metaphysics. And this comes from the science of evolution itself – not quantum physics. Quantum physics is the smoking gun that points at major problems with our conventional notions of metaphysics, the nature of reality and our perceptions of that reality. This new theory, coming from evolution, presents a much bigger picture of the nature of our illusion. It validates both Jung and Fuller. I see this as really changing the game, but it will certainly take time to be accepted and proven. But for those of us who are ready for this new framework, these ideas open up more possibilities allowing us to go farther and deeper. I hope that this new metaphysics leads to more understanding and acceptance of Jung and his ideas – and to more evolution.