Deleuze: Machines

“It is not the slumber of reason that engenders monsters, but vigilant and insomniac rationality.”

During the 20th century, philosophers from the Frankfurt School, including Horckheimer, Marcuse, Adorno, and Fromm, attempted to synthesize Freud’s and Marx’s work. Freud’s introduction of the concept of the unconscious mind demonstrated that basic aspects of personality could be unknown to an individual. Desires and motives could originate from an area of which the individual was unaware. In Marx’s theory of superstructure, he explained how societal creations, including theories, were initially influenced by the economic environment in which individuals were born.

However, Deleuze and Guattari disagreed with this viewpoint. They believed that, similar to Christianity, modernity encouraged individuals to see reality from a singular perspective. This form of knowledge projects an image of reality at the expense of actual reality. They spoke of figures, icons, and signs, yet they failed to perceive forces and flows that bound individuals to alternative realities. These alternative realities, in turn, resulted in the fabrication of docile and obedient subjects.

By relegating oneself to an “ism,” such as Freudianism, Libertarianism, Nationalism, Post-Modernism, Serialism, Marxism, or Capitalism, an individual limits themselves to a single point of view, which they will continuously debate for the rest of their life.

To contrast other political philosophies based on the contract (Hobbes), the spirit of the law (Montesquieu), a theory of the state (Plato), or the problem of legitimation (Durkheim, Habermas), a theory of the state, Deleuze and Guattari declared,

Shit on your whole mortifying, imaginary, and symbolic theater!”


Deleuze’s notion of machines is a central aspect of his philosophy, and it refers to a way of understanding the world that goes beyond traditional dualities such as subject/object or nature/culture. According to Deleuze, machines are not merely technological devices, but rather are a fundamental aspect of the way the world works.

Deleuze argued that machines are not only physical entities but also abstract ones, meaning that they can be understood as systems of relations and processes that connect things together. Machines are not static entities, but rather they are constantly evolving, adapting and changing as they interact with their environment.

For Deleuze, there are two main types of machines: technical machines and abstract machines. Technical machines are the familiar type of machines that we encounter in our daily lives, such as cars, computers, or other devices. These machines are designed to perform specific functions and are typically composed of various physical parts.

On the other hand, abstract machines are more difficult to define. They are not physical objects, but rather they are systems of relations and processes that operate on a more abstract level. Abstract machines are not designed to perform specific functions but rather to create new possibilities and connections between different things.

Deleuze argued that abstract machines are always at work in the world, creating new connections and relationships between things. These machines are not just a product of human activity, but rather they are a fundamental aspect of the way the world works. By studying the operation of machines, Deleuze believed that we could gain a better understanding of the underlying processes and relations that shape the world around us.

Overall, Deleuze’s notion of machines is an important aspect of his philosophy, and it offers a unique way of understanding the world that goes beyond traditional dichotomies and dualities. By viewing the world through the lens of machines, Deleuze believed that we could gain a deeper appreciation for the complexity and interconnectedness of the world around us.

Imagine a bicycle. By itself the bicycle just kind of sits there by itself in a garage purely virtual in terms of its potential, it doesn’t become actualized in any way. What the bicycle needs are other machines around it to make connections with. Say that the bicycle connects with the machine of a human being. That person could do a thousand different things, they could ride it around, they could take it apart and sell it as parts, they could give it to charity or see as a work of art and put on display, they could name it, they could beat somebody to death, the point is they insist that life is actually a machine made up of multiple machinic connections. Machines are multiplicities and not definable by the sum of their parts.

“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. An organ-machine is plugged into an energy-source-machine: the one produces a flow that the other interrupts. The breast is a machine that produces milk, and the mouth is machine coupled to it.

The breast of the new mother can be thought of as a machine just as the mouth of the newborn baby can be thought of as a machine each seeking connections with other machines and each using the connections with other machines to actualize themselves.

They oppose Freud’s concept of sublimation, which posits an inherent dualism between desiring-machines and social production. Their concept of sexuality is not limited to the interaction of male and female gender roles, but instead posits a multiplicity of flows that a “hundred thousand” desiring-machines create within their connected universe;

“Making love is not just becoming as one, or even two, but becoming as a hundred thousand. Desiring-machines or the nonhuman sex: not one or even two sexes, but n sexes.”

While individuals are representations of one specific machine type. An example of another type of machine would be a group. These two things are instances of machines in the sense that they are organizations finding relations with other machines trying to bring about an actuality.

Can we apply the same principle to political revolutions, historical events, super structures, as devices in their own right? Some sort of hyperobject? Global warming is perhaps the most dramatic example of what Timothy Morton calls “hyperobjects” – entities of such vast temporal and spatial dimensions that they defeat traditional ideas about what a thing is in the first place and their impact on how we think, how we coexist, and how we experience our politics, ethics, and art.

According to Sigmund Freud’s, the id is the personality component made up of unconscious psychic energy that works to satisfy basic urges, needs, and desires operating on the pleasure principle, which demands immediate gratification.

“Psychoanalysis was from the start, still is, and perhaps always will be a well-constituted church and a form of treatment based on a set of beliefs that only the very faithful could adhere to, i.e., those who believe in a security that amounts to being lost in the herd and defined in terms of common and external goals”

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