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Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller

From New York Times (June, 15, 2008)

As the designer R. Buckminster Fuller liked to tell it, his powerful creative vision was born of a moment of deep despair at the age of 32. A self-described ne’er-do-well, twice ejected from Harvard, a failure in business and a heavy drinker, he trudged to the Chicago lakefront one day in 1927 and stood there, contemplating suicide. But an inner voice interrupted, telling him that he had a mission to discover great truths, all for the good of humankind.

That was the pivot on which, he claimed, his life turned. The onetime loser entered a period of such deep reflection that he was struck silent, then emerged bursting with creativity as he developed the “Dymaxion” inventions: technologies that he promised would transform housing, transportation, urban organization and, eventually, the human condition. From 1927 on, Fuller seemed utterly self-assured, even messianic, as he developed innovations like the geodesic dome, equal parts engineering élan and poetry.

Those pioneering creations will go on display next week in “Buckminster Fuller: Starting With the Universe,” a sprawling show at the Whitney Museum of American Art that testifies to the wide-ranging intellectual curiosity of Fuller (1895-1983), who inspired several generations with his quixotic vision and his zeal for the liberating power of technology.

But recent research has shed new light on Fuller’s inner life and what really drove him. In particular, it now appears that the suicide story may have been yet another invention, an elaborate myth that served to cover up a formative period that was far more tumultuous and unstable, for far longer, than Fuller ever revealed.

That is one of many insights gleaned by researchers who have begun exploring the visionary’s personal archives, deposited in 1999 at the Stanford University library by his family.

Because he believed his ideas and life would hold enduring interest, Fuller collected nearly every scrap of paper that ever passed through his hands, including letters that raise questions about the suicide story. At 45 tons, it is the largest personal archive at Stanford, according to Hsiao-Yun Chu, a former assistant curator of the papers and co-editor of a book, “Reassessing R. Buckminster Fuller,” to be published by Stanford University Press next year.

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Iraq on film

Hollywood has begun to produce films on the Iraq war that, while topical, have not yet proven to be box office hits. Notably the powerful new Brian Depalma film Redacted and the recently released film by Paul Haggis In the valley of Elah

Documentary filmmakers have long ago seized on the war as an ideal subject for their scrutiny. You can locate films in the media collection by searching the subject Iraq war 2003.

The many titles held at Green include:

Iraq in fragments(2007)
Home of the brave(2007)
No end in sight(2007)
Ghosts of Abu Ghraib(2007)
War tapes (2007)
Lost year in Iraq(2006)
Short life of José Antonio Gutierrez(2006)
Blood of my brother(2006)
Cindy Sheehan, Amy Goodman(2006)
Off to war: from rural Arkansas to Iraq(2006)
Iraq for sale: the war profiteers(2006)
Combat diary. The marines of Lima company(2006)
Ground truth(2006)
Why we fight(2006)

Bette at 100

Stanford Theater is celebrating the career of the Divine Bette Davis with a series of her films which includes seldom seen, rare films from the UCLA Film Archive

The Bold and the Bad and the Bumpy Nights New York Times March 30, 2008

BETTE DAVIS, born 100 years ago this week, made her first appearance on film in 1931 and her last in 1989, and like every star of her generation she was always ready for her close-up. The difference with Davis — part of what makes her, I think, the greatest actress of the American cinema — was, she didn’t need it. You could tell what she was thinking and feeling from across the room, even a very large one like the ballroom she swoops into, wearing a red dress, in William Wyler’s “Jezebel” (1938), scandalizing the haut monde of 1852 New Orleans; unmarried young women like her character, Julie Marsden, are expected to wear white. But Julie wants to make an impression, and she does; and as she takes a turn on the dance floor with her stiff-backed escort, you can see, although most of the sequence is long shots, her growing awareness that she has made a terrible mistake, that she has gone, for once, too far.....

more at NYTIMES

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