peteg's blog

The Art of Rube Goldberg

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I picked this up on the strength of a review in the New York Times, and to see if I could get Amazon to deliver. I didn't bother to read all the articles as they tend to continue in the vein of Adam Gopnik's introduction: overly personal and not that interesting. From there I did get pointers to Chaplin's Modern Times and the antecedent/complementary artists Frenchman Marcel Duchamp and Englishman Heath Robinson. (The American "Rube Goldberg machine" that invariably results from hacking would be termed a "Heath Robinson machine" by the poms. mrak, I'm not looking at you.) The paper mechanism on the cover sort-of works.

I did look at all the comics, however. The machines would have been better taken at the rate of one a week or so. My favourite was his series of advertisements for razor blades, "stubble trouble": ridiculously long Imam-style beards being used as hammocks, for tying up Santa Claus, being knitted by distracted wives, and so forth.

Goldberg once said his machines — which he drafted with strict but rollicking precision — were a “symbol of man’s capacity for exerting maximum effort to achieve minimal results.”