By Anna Gray + Ryan Wilson Paulsen
“Why does everyone look so glum?” Someone asked as I exited the building after seeing the first performance of The Love Song of Buckminster Fuller.
“Was it that bad?”
“No, no. It was good. You’ll like it.” I heard myself saying. And, mostly I believed that, but a little while later, I realized the piece had actually made me feel profoundly sad.
I knew a fair amount about Buckminster Fuller’s story before seeing the film (though it did answer some burning questions I had had regarding bathroom breaks during epic lectures). The performance beautifully illustrated a story I already knew, one we all already know—one about failed utopian visions and hair-brained, lovable inventors. The thing that made me so sad about the piece was that it made clear how fundamental it is that we equate utopian vision with failure, with tyranny and disaster. This is at best a boring equation, at worst it’s the greatest tragedy of our time. I feel like all I do lately is quote the anthropologist and activist David Graeber, but he has the most interesting thing to say about utopianism I have heard in a long time: “There is nothing wrong with a utopia unless you have just one.” Continue reading