Allan B. Calhamer is a Phallic Symbol

by Conrad von Metzke

Now, I think we can start right out by laying it on the line, if I may venture what will prove to be a masterful pun of which I’m justifiably proud. We all know from reading Sigmund that everything in life is sexual. Diplomacy is no exception, but in this instance we are dealing with a relatively subtle form of sexual expression. After all, there aren’t many female Diplomacy players, and it is only rarely that you are able to avail yourself of the opportunity to support her into a province in return for her going to bed with you. No, unfortunately this golden opportunity is rare in our game. (There is, of course, the superb chance awaiting the homosexual player, but I prefer to avoid this field for the present. I’m not about to clutter up my magazine with lurid stories about a bunch of goddamn fruits.)

We must therefore delve deeper. It can be shown, I think, that there is much to be found by so probing. Diplomacy is, after all, a game of interaction and interrelationship among seven incredibly sexual human beings, and provides a breeding ground for several of D. Berne’s favourite games. How sexual is one-upmanship? In what way does the annihilation of an army or fleet relate to sado-masochism? Is the self-stand-off indicative of Oedipal conflict, or is perhaps its resultant open province a representation of the womb? Is it really true that an English opening move F(Lon)-ENG confides a lack of infantile fondling and/or a broken home? And what is the urge to get more units if not a graphic portrayal of an erection? (With a female player this last feature of the game probably signifies the drive for pregnancy. This is a bit far afield, however, since no woman in her right mind wants to give birth to a bunch of plastic playing pieces. There might be the case for armies and fleets representing eggs, if the female player were a trout.)

Well, let us begin at the beginning. (In psychoanalysis this is considered good. It is also expensive. Some day I hope to do a paper on the sexuality of psychotherapeutic cost structures.) Basic to the game is the number one phallic symbol of all, the thin plastic piece used to represent a fleet. And the bullet-shaped blocks for armies are just as definitely phallic; they don’t look it only because they have to be differentiated from fleets somehow, and sublimating their penile significance is as good a way as any. (There is a case to be made for the urge to build fleets in strength as penis envy; those who put England as their first choice are strongly advised to purchase a cassette recorder.) In fact, this game is literally reeking with phallic symbology: the long lines underscoring moves which fail; the dash used in orders to mean “moves to” (in which instance it is perhaps worthwhile interpreting, say, A(Mun)-Bur to read “A(Mun) attempts coitus with Bur,” the press release equivalent of which is “Berlin: Fuck the Frogs”). There are innumerable others, but you get the – ah – point.

These phallic associations are really incidental to, or symptomatic of, the meat of the issue. (Jesus Christ) Diplomacy is a representation of war, and war as an institution is perhaps the single most sexual facet of human existence, except of course good old you-know-what. This is adequately demonstrated by the statistically incredible rate of VD among Vietnam returnees. Then there are the more obscure psychoanalytical theories: the act of killing a man is really a decisive way of saying, “If you were a woman we’d make other arrangements”; the pair-bond of underlying sexuality between superior officers and subordinate, the civilian manifestations of which would get you arrested in Greenwich Village; the use of nicknames of affection for one’s enemies, related to the lover-terms given to marital partner’s genitalia. To suggest a few. In fact, war, and by extension Diplomacy, is the only sexual act (well…. the only other sexual act) that truly goes all the way.

To finalise my argument, let us psychoanalyse a typical press release or letter to an enemy (or any other player, I suppose, depending on your taste in friends).

Berlin – Paris:See previous note about this.
You son of a bitch!Term of endearment.
You took every one of my centres!Possessiveness – sexual connotation.
Why’d you do a shitty thing like that?Note anal fixation.
I ought to get you!Implied “and would love to.”
You don’t know the first thing about this game.Challenge, inviting advances.
Next time we play together,Suggesting sex as a ‘sport’.
You just wait and see what I do to you!God, how lurid!

This is quite sufficient, I suspect to indicate that there’s a lot more to Diplomacy than you thoughts For further insight, consult the writings of Dr. Freud, certain passages from the books of Henry Miller, your confessor and/or your conscience. And perhaps you ought to stop reading Diplomacy magazines in bed.

Questions for further study:

1) On the move in which you stab him, your ally miswrites his orders, enabling you to capture four of his supply centres. Do you achieve orgasm?

2) Discuss the homosexual phallic similarities between Silesia and Galicia. Be sure to mention the significance of moves from one to the other, with special emphasis on the defence support order as sublimation.

3) England was your last choice, but you got it anyway. Is your libido playing tricks on you, or is the gamesmaster a fag?

4) You are England and have F(MAO) and F(NAO). Italy has F(WMS), F(NAf) and F(Spa)sc. France has F(Por). Both France and Italy have been leading you on, but both are well known to be unfaithful. What are your best moves to prevent copulation?