Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Viva Rube Goldberg!

Why do we love Rube Goldberg machines so much? There's an undeniable thrill to the breathless curiosity of What will come next? and Can they really pull this off? I think it's the implausibility of it all. OK Go is famous for their viral music videos...I think my favorite moment of this is the delighted giggle at the end when you realize why they're all soaked in paint and what it implies.

I always think of the old saw "Life is just one damn thing after another" when I see these things. There's a sort of weird hope to them, like the one damn thing after another that drives us through our lives might actually end up being part of an obscure and intricate pattern that leads to something meaningful (a hope that is probably best off being tucked away somewhere, in my opinion, but I indulge it for goofiness like this).

Somehow the lyrics augment that for me, too.

Let it go, this too shall pass.
(You know you can't keep lettin' it get you down. No, you can't keep lettin' it get you down.)

When the morning comes.
(You can't keep lettin' it get you down. You can't keep lettin' it get you down.)

I believe that Rube Goldberg machines are an accurate depiction of the way my brain works.

Reading in Simon Schama's "Dead Certainties" about the death of General WOlfe (in the French and Indian War), I copied this out:

"An escape presented itself (as escapes so often do) by way of a response to a secondary problem."

Some of the joy of RGs for me is also their aesthetic, a favorite of mine, which I call Scratching-in-the-Dirt-with-a-Stick.
Anyone can show their genius this way, for free!

Take that, James Cameron.
Scratching-in-the-Dirt-with-a-Stick! I like it! I agree, part of what's fun about Rube Goldberg machines is also the DIY quality, the shock of seeing standard objects (a teakettle, soda bottles, a tire) turned into something intricate and driven.

I finally saw "Avatar" recently and almost fell asleep during the big macho battle sequence, lol. My husband noted they were careful to kill off any female character who could conceivably vie for the heart of the Heroic Lead, and that does seem to sum up the aesthetic for me.
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