Logistical Fictions

The Breakfast Machine

One of the more familiar examples of Rube Goldberg machines, Pee-wee’s elaborate contraption, while not at all efficient in the conventional sense, seems to operate precisely to the particulars that Herman has specified.

Global logistics shares some important distinctions with what might be termed logistics at the small-scale (tabletop, or perhaps, factory floor logistics), and they follow from similar historical circumstances. What the supply chain is to global logistics, so the assembly line had been for logistics on the factory floor. These contraptions, on the other hand, aren’t governed by that same notion of efficient assembly, operating instead as a kind of end-negation built from the same supposedly innately efficient mechanical means. It is no coincidence that they inhabit the same moment in history—Ford’s assembly line is generally mapped to the year 1913, with Rube Goldberg’s first mechanical cartoon appearing the following year. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.