Fuller Syllabus

A Roadmap for Synergetics

Kirby Urner
16 min readApr 8, 2018

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I get asked this a lot: where would you go with Synergetics, if it were going anywhere? Mostly they just see me in the junkyard, sitting in some rusted hulk, pretending it’ll take me places. Very Sesame Street.

For those just joining us, some backstory: Synergetics in two volumes was the magnum opus of a famous futurist of the 1900s, one Buckminster Fuller, or Bucky for short. He steered clear of becoming a Jonestown style cult preacher, but sometimes not by much, as he’d speak for hours on end to rapt hippies enjoying their favorite brand of “opium” (a catch-all) in whatever campus setting.

Before I address myself to that story more, let me yak about my own background. The Art of Memory, by Frances A. Yates, about the mnemonic arts, Hermetic Tradition, Fludd, Dee, Shakespeare and so on, was influential. As a child in the early days of VR (“virtual reality”) I was keen to see the metaphoric Memory Palaces taking shape in Cyberia, if you know that place (grin). The internet had barely gotten started, yet we were already imagining a shared dollhouse of sorts. Dr. Vannevar Bush called it the MEMEX way back in 1945.

Add to the above, Little Prince, the children’s book, and we get to my roadmap for Synergetics. Fuller was laying the foundation for knowledge domains, each a reflection of all the others, to be as planets, or glass beads, each networking in the round, not on a plane (plain).

The Little Prince

The core observation of Synergetics, not unique to Synergetics, is that a polyhedron is also a network. We take that for granted these days, but that wasn’t always the case. Also: by “network” or “nodes and edges” we also mean “roadmap” or “graph”. Planets may behave as biospheres, connected in the round.

We all have a memory to keep organized, or call it a “heap”. Schools have passed the torch with tips and tricks for keeping our thoughts organized. Orators were especially in need of techniques, but not only them.

We have no reason to denigrate an art as mundane as arranging icons on a desktop, as “esoteric”. Housekeeping and garbage collection would be no less so.

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