on this U.S. postage stamp, a man sits at a table eating soup with an elaborate mechanism strapped to his head to cause a napkin to wipe his chin

The Inventions of Professor Lucifer G. Butts, A.K.Rube Goldberg

Self-operating napkin

“Professor Butts walks in his sleep, strolls through a cactus field in his bare feet, and screams out an idea for a self-operating napkin. “As you raise spoon of soup (A) to your mouth it pulls string (B), thereby jerking ladle (C) which throws cracker (D) past parrot (E). Parrot jumps after cracker and perch (F) tilts, upsetting seeds (G) into pail (H). Extra weight in pail pulls cord (I) which opens and lights automatic cigar lighter (J), setting off sky-rocket (K) which causes sickle (L) to cut string (M) and allow pendulum with attached napkin to swing back and forth thereby wiping off your chin. “After the meal, substitute a harmonica for the napkin and you’ll be able to entertain the guests with a little muslc.” — Rube Goldberg

“It’s the Little Things that Matter”

“While all the big inventions were giving the astonished world fresher and louder gasps of incredulity, “I could see around me many things that by their glaring deficiencies were crying out for urgent reform.” — Strathmore, a.k.a. Rube Goldberg Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts, the Professor, is the answer for the modern man and woman in their struggles against inconvenient trivialities. The professor always remains behind the scenes, claiming no personal fame and generous to a fault, bestowing his inventions upon all humanity.

Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts, the Professor

Improbable except to the imagination, the work of Professor Lucifer G. Butts inspires curiosity and a smile. The professor often invented his contraptions while undergoing an unrelated experience such as falling into the Grand Canyon.

Surrealist devices

The fact that effects are exaggerated tells us about the condition of being human. Recourses to efficiency and economy are conveniences of simple minds. The fact that a device exploits the instinctual behavior of a trained seal does not mean that human beings are merely cogs in a vast machine. It means that humans are free to create, free to wonder, and free to defy physics. Large minds with large imaginations laugh at the obvious implications.