1975 December Correspondence Bruce Hamilton and Bucky Fuller
Bruce's Request for Permission
December 4, 1975
R. Buckminister Fuller
University City Science Center
3508 Science Center
The purpose of this letter is twofold. The first purpose is to
inform you of the new geodesic backpackable tent that we at The
North Face are producing, to ask your permission, albiet after the
fact, to have used quotations from your writings in our catalogue,
and to offer you, as an expression that this tent would not yet
have come into being without your work and as a thank you for your
work, one of our tents,.
This tent, which I have named in a play on words, The Oval Intention,
is the combined work of three individuals and is a testament to
synergy and to human co-operation. Bob Gillis, who has a patent
granted on "Tentflatables", has a patent pending on the principle
of flexible compression members which are pulled into preferred
patterns by an inner tensional skin, in which skin are located rings
through which rings the flexible compression members pass and which
rings define the vertexes of the structure. Bob is confidant that
he has not infringed on any of your or of any other's patent rights.
His lawyer's preliminary search has turned up nothing to the
contrary, The second person involved is Mark Erickson, who is the
designer for The North Face. Mark's reputation as a designer of
lightweight, life supporting back packing equipment and functional
clothing is already well established. I am the third person. On
my decision, The North Face entered into an agreement with Bob to
develop and produce a tent based on his patentable invention. Mark
and I worked together as "talent" in taking this tent from the idea
and model stage across the set of tools and the raw materials available
to us at The North Face and in bringing this invention from the general
into a specific embodiment as a mass producible product. I want to
express that we intended to use your quotations as educational and
in honor of your work, We sincerely hope that we have not offended
you in any way or violated your copyright rights.
We would be deeply honored to be able to present this tent to you
in person. If you will inform me of your travel schedule concerning
the next time that you will be on the West Coast, from Seattle to
San Diego, we will be pleased to meet with you and to present you
with this small gift. If you prefer, I will send the tent to you
at any address that you wish.
The second purpose of this letter is personal and if you will bear
with me for a few more lines, I must ask you for something.
Two years ago, after 'emiting your staff and receiving a reply from
Timothy Wessels, I sat down at this machine and attempted to address
you directly, I could not write that letter then, but this time I
will finish the request that I started then.
I have been a student of yours for the past six years. I have studied
your writings, participated in a World Game Workshop in Carbondale
in 1970, and have been studying and experimenting with synergetic
geometry for all that time. I have a degree from Vanderbilt University
in 1968 in Biology and Chemistry and having been a pre-med student,
I received a general background-scientific education which prepared
me for Education Automation which I found in 1969. From studying
your work I found a need to understand industry in general and I felt
that experience in a specific industry would be educational and good
for me. Hap Klopp, President of The North Face gave me that chance
hiring me as a "generalist" and exposing me to the workings of a modern
industry, So that I find myself at The North Face at this time.
Having a basic comprehension of the general logic resource behind
Synergetics and practical experience with my own hands, I was in a
perfect position to recognize the potential of Bob's invention and
to be the catalyst in bringing the tent into "reality", I tell you
this, not to draw praise to myself, but to indicate the sincerity of
this request. The request is this: I have read, apprehended but not
comprehended, the last chapter of Nine Chains to The Moon, It was
in manuscript form and was entitled "The Game of Life". I will
spare you the details of when and where, but suffice it to say that
the person who let me read it made me stay in his room and he was
present the whole time, The circumstances under which I was allowed
to read the manuscript did not help my ability to comprehend that
which I was readinge I would like to have a copy of that beautiful
discussion of time, life as time, and the 180 's and 360 's that make
up our phonetic alphabet. I am frustrated to know that I cannot
remember more than the general theme and a few specifics such as,
"TIME is EMIT" backwards.
I think the fact that I was instrumental in getting this tent
designed and produced has given me the inner strength to address
you directly, It is not much of an accomplishment compared to the
work you have done and compared to the work that is to be done.
Although my future direction and path is unclear to me I hope
that this is representative of a small step in the right direction.
Finally I want to take this opportunity to personally thank you
for all that you have done and will do. Your example and your work
has been my only inspiration for the last six years, You are
a great man and I love you for what you are.
PS The Climatron in St. Louis is the most beautiful structure that
I have ever seen.
The Quoted Text from Synergistics
706.10 Sphericity: Compound curvature, or sphericity, gives the greatest strength with the least material. It is no aesthetic accident that nature encased our brains and regenerative organs in compoundly curvilinear structures, There are no cubical heads, eggs, nuts, or planets.
--R. Buckminster Fuller, from SYNERGETICS: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking, MacMillan Publishing, New York, 1974.
R. BUCKMINSTER FULLER
Southern Illinois University
World Fellow in Residence
University of Pennsylvania
Bryn Mawr College
University City Science Center
December 16, 1975
Dear Mr. Hamilton:
I would love to meet with you in California and
see the beautiful North Face backpack geodesic tent.
I am delighted to give you retroactive permission
to use my quote.
My grandson, Jaime Snyder, will be in touch with
you shortly to arrange our meeting.
R. Buckminster Fuller
Dictated but unsigned due to absence