October 22, 2023
One in a series of posts via which HILOBROW’S Josh Glenn will attempt to depict the intellectual and emotional highs and lows of developing a semiotic schema. Series dedicated to its target audience of one: Malcolm Evans.
“Don’t fight forces, use them.” — Buckminster Fuller, Shelter (May 1932).
“All the categories of creatures act individually as special-case and may be linearly analyzed; retrospectively, it is discoverable that inadvertently they are all interaffecting one another synergetically as a spherical, interprecessionally regenerative, tensegrity spherical integrity. Geodesic spheres demonstrate the compressionally discontinuous–tensionally continuous integrity. Ecology is tensegrity geodesic spherical programming.” — Fuller, Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (1975)
One of the ways Fuller would describe the differences in strength between a rectangle and a triangle would be to apply pressure to both structures. The rectangle would fold up and be unstable but the triangle withstands the pressure and is much more rigid — in fact the triangle is twice as strong. (Apply pressure to one edge of a triangle, and that force is evenly distributed to the other two sides, which then transmit pressure to adjacent triangles. A structure made of triangles efficiently distributes stress along the entire structure via this cascading distribution of pressure.) This principle directed Fuller’s studies toward creating a new architectural design, the geodesic dome, based also upon his idea of “doing more with less.”
Fuller didn’t invent the dome, obviously. Ancient peoples such as the Romans applied their masonry skills — and their knowledge of the arch — to create massive domes. But those domes needed equally large supporting walls keep the entire structure from crashing to the ground.
A “geodesic” structure — the term refers to the shortest distance between two points on a curved surface; it is a Greek word that means “earth dividing” — is a spherical structure constructed out of interconnecting lines rather than out of curved surfaces. Fuller discovered that if a spherical structure was created from triangles, it would have unparalleled strength. Because the geodesic dome resembles a sphere, it has a relatively low surface-area-to-volume ratio, which means that its volume is larger than its surface area. So it can enclose a massive amount of volume when compared with the size of the structure itself.
Any given semiosphere, too, can be profitably thought of as an example of “tensegrity geodesic spherical programming.” Each of the semiosphere’s elements, considered on their own, appear to be independent “agents”; but in fact each of these agents affects all of the others, and is affected by them.
MORE FURSHLUGGINER THEORIES BY JOSH GLENN: SCHEMATIZING | IN CAHOOTS | JOSH’S MIDJOURNEY | POPSZTÁR SAMIZDAT | VIRUS VIGILANTE | TAKING THE MICKEY | WE ARE IRON MAN | AND WE LIVED BENEATH THE WAVES | IS IT A CHAMBER POT? | I’D LIKE TO FORCE THE WORLD TO SING | THE ARGONAUT FOLLY | THE PERFECT FLANEUR | THE TWENTIETH DAY OF JANUARY | THE REAL THING | THE YHWH VIRUS | THE SWEETEST HANGOVER | THE ORIGINAL STOOGE | BACK TO UTOPIA | FAKE AUTHENTICITY | CAMP, KITSCH & CHEESE | THE UNCLE HYPOTHESIS | MEET THE SEMIONAUTS | THE ABDUCTIVE METHOD | ORIGIN OF THE POGO | THE BLACK IRON PRISON | BLUE KRISHMA | BIG MAL LIVES | SCHMOOZITSU | YOU DOWN WITH VCP? | CALVIN PEEING MEME | DANIEL CLOWES: AGAINST GROOVY | DEBATING IN A VACUUM | PLUPERFECT PDA | SHOCKING BLOCKING.