Buckminster Fuller Appears on the Los Angeles New Age Cable TV Shows, Psychic Phenomena and Quest Four (1979–82)

Has the world ever known a more com­pelling­ly eccen­tric cul­tur­al out­let than the fringes of Los Ange­les tele­vi­sion in the 1970s and 80s? For the most part a realm of false prophets, unhinged crack­pots, des­per­ate pitch­men, and Cal Wor­thing­ton, its air­waves also occa­sion­al­ly car­ried the thoughts of impor­tant minds. Take, for instance, the appear­ances on the pub­lic-access cable pro­grams Psy­chic Phe­nom­e­na: The World Beyond and Quest Four: The Fourth Dimen­sion of none oth­er than pro­lif­ic archi­tect-the­o­rist-inven­tor Buck­min­ster Fuller. You can watch both togeth­er, and there­by get an overview of the then already octo­ge­nar­i­an Fuller’s life and ideas in a fair­ly unusu­al con­text, in the videos of the Youtube playlist above.

On both pro­grams, the first of which aired in 1979 and the sec­ond in 1983, Fuller sits across from Damien Simp­son. The founder of an orga­ni­za­tion called the Uni­ver­sal Mind Sci­ence Church, Simp­son seems to have spent his life as some­thing of a seek­er. After time in the sem­i­nary, he lived for a peri­od in a monastery under a vow of silence.

In the years after start­ing his own church, he host­ed new-age tele­vi­sion and radio pro­grams whose guest lists includ­ed, accord­ing to his bio, every­one from Elis­a­beth Kübler-Ross to Den­nis Weaver. But Simp­son clear­ly con­sid­ered Fuller the catch to beat them all, more than once liken­ing him­self to “a kid in a can­dy store” as he rev­els in his chance to con­verse with the man who thought up the geo­des­ic dome and much else besides.

Born in the 19th cen­tu­ry, usu­al­ly dressed in a suit and tie, and con­stant­ly work­ing on the devel­op­ment and appli­ca­tion of ultra-prac­ti­cal ideas, Fuller hard­ly pro­ject­ed the image of a 70s new-ager. Yet he and the audi­ences of shows like Psy­chic Phe­nom­e­na and Quest Four shared more than a few habits of mind. Fuller, for instance, insist­ed on always con­sid­er­ing the world as not a col­lec­tion of nations but one whole sys­tem (one he mem­o­rably labeled “Space­ship Earth”), an exam­ple of “holis­tic think­ing” in the truest sense. He also believed, as he spells out in these inter­views, that human­i­ty faces an exis­ten­tial “final exam­i­na­tion,” a test of our col­lec­tive intel­lect and will to deter­mine whether we can bring about an era — quite lit­er­al­ly, a new age — of peace. It will demand much of us, he tells Simp­son and and his view­ers all across Los Ange­les, not least our naiveté: “Dare to be naive. That’s the only way you’ll ever learn any­thing.”

via Ubuweb

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Three-Minute Intro­duc­tion to Buck­min­ster Fuller, One of the 20th Century’s Most Pro­duc­tive Design Vision­ar­ies

Every­thing I Know: 42 Hours of Buck­min­ster Fuller’s Vision­ary Lec­tures Free Online (1975)

Watch an Ani­mat­ed Buck­min­ster Fuller Tell Studs Terkel All About “the Geo­des­ic Life”

Bet­ter Liv­ing Through Buck­min­ster Fuller’s Utopi­an Designs: Revis­it the Dymax­ion Car, House, and Map

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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