In the opening chapter "Desiring Machines" of Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus (the first volume of Capitalism & Schizophrenia) the authors write:

It is at work everywhere, functioning smoothly at times, at other times in fits and starts. It breathes, it heats, it eats... What a mistake to have ever said the id. Everywhere it is machines-real ones, not figurative ones: machines driving other machines, machines being driven by other machines, with all the necessary couplings and connections.

In the introduction Mark Seem writes:

[I]t would be an error to view Anti-Oedipus as yet another attempt at a Freud/Marx synthesis. For such an attempt always treats political economy (the flows of capital and interest) and the economy of the libido (the flows of desire) as two separate economies

As a preliminary reading of this passage should I take it that it is machines that form the psyche? (Is the id made concrete as machines?)

  • Just in passing: Freud uses un-technical language for what we call the id -- it's just "it" in German, as I understand anyway. (Also: here's some of Freud's own language around the id: "contrary impulses exist side by side, without cancelling each other out.... There is nothing in the id that could be compared with negation ... nothing in the id which corresponds to the idea of time")
    – Joseph Weissman
    Commented Feb 24, 2013 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


A short answer would, I think, be that he doesn't.

It is the Id made concrete as Machines? Of course this militates against Seems warning, not to take it as a synthesis of Marx & Freud, but he represents this as two separate juxtaposed economies of flows - the libidinal & economic - whereas Deleuze appears to be explicitly merging the two together here.

The Id is a notion approached from the perspective which Deleuze and Guattari formed by their synthesis of Marxist production and Nietzsche's theory of forces. Deleuze isn't reformulating Freud's notion of Id. Anti-Oedipus is a critique of Freud's model of the unconscious whose conclusion is rejection of the Freudian model of the unconscious (with its focus on lack, etc.) in favor of an unconscious conceived as a purely positive, productive and mechanic constellation of forces.

For a great explanation of Anti-Oedipus I recommend Michael Hardt's notes. The most complete formulation of Deleuze's theory of the unconscious can be found in his book on Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. See also his discussion of 'larval selves' and his notion of the 'passive syntheses of time' in chapters 2 and 3 in Difference and Repetition.

  • Isn't the focus on lack the Lacanian view rather than Freud? Or did Lacan lift it from Freud? And where can I find Nietszches theory of forces? Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 22:12
  • So in short, Deleuze is using the Id as a metonym for the unconcious, which he makes over as a machine? Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 22:57

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