Sigmund Freud’s guide to spyplanes

95a682062f.jpgSchaulust is a German word which describes the pleasure we feel in looking. This curiosity or scopophilia is a powerful pleasure and one that if not indulged in directly will leading to sublimation in another activity, often one remarkably similar to erotic voyeurism. The love of a military aircraft find its roots in the Purified Pleasure Ego, that facet of the ego that projects its own badness onto external objects. The spyplane, exemplified by the erotically supercharged SR-71 is an example of the hyper-sexualisation of the object (often bolstered by patriotism, itself a product of the Uber-Ich). Sitting at such a giddy vertex of powerful impulses makes the spyplane a powerful symbol. It is because of this that the spyplane occupies such a particularly potent appeal to the unconscious.”


“Let us start with the E-6, it is surely significant that this aircraft was originally known as the Hermes. Hermes, the god of ‘boundaries’ is a phallic deity. He was portrayed on pillars with an engorged phallus – his son Pan has a larger and fully erect penis. The E-6 is codenamed Looking Glass – as this is not a spyplane – but a mirror to the US Navy’s ability to control forces when an nuclear attack destroys Global Operations Center (GOC), located at Offutt Air Force Base. The mirror also reveals a nation in the grip of the most dangerous of Anti-Cathexis, the belief in nuclear deterrent- the unconscious desire for a universal orgasm that will consume and destroy all of us.


MiG-25R ‘Fehlleistung’

The enemy’s aircraft has the same symbolic value- but it is inverted. That the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25R was made so dangerous to fly was a nod to the Death Drive, the fundamental tendency for life to seek the calm of entropic non-activity. A Fehlleistung is a faulty achievement- when we intend to do one thing but do another, and is really the code word that should have been assigned to describe this extremely fast aeroplane by the Air and Space Interoperability Council. The MiG-25R was virtually invulnerable to interception (at least physically, though not emotionally), relying on high speed and altitude to evade its persecutors.


It suffered a Repetition Compulsion throughout the 1970s to fly over troubled Middle Eastern nations without offering help. Its attraction to potential conflict continued through its later life- in 1997 a MiG-25R of the Indian Air Force caused a diplomatic stir by snooping on Pakistan at bisonic speeds. If the ‘Foxbat’ embraced Thanatos, then the Blackbird represents the opposite – it is the voice of the libido and of the Trieb – and the invincible sexual self.

But what of the female? The Lockheed Electra Complex is the desire of the female child to have children with her father in a four-engined turboprop. So taboo was such a notion that the Apollonian US Navy disguised the Electra, renaming it Orion (a name with with all together different associations) when it pressed it into service, notably as the EP-3, which -revealingly- was a reconnaissance aircraft.



The unmanned aircraft- its title alone expressing the agonising castration fear of pilots- is a nightmare weaved or indeed woven from carbon fibre. Who controls what it sees? The Latent Control parallels are as dangerous as you would imagine. With its famed ‘drinking straw vision’ does it demonstrate a wilful aversion to distinguishing between the inner and outer life? Can it separate fantasy and externality for its Portacabin dreamers? The unmanned aircraft is voyeurism heaped upon voyeurism- a remove from a titillating remove, and as such threatens all involved.”

Sigmund Freud’s new book Harrier GR.Mk 3 ‘The Thimble-Nosed Mother of all of Us’ is now available. 

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  1. tonyo262

    Utterly fascinating, I’m working on an elliptical theme; Kant – the styrene years (working title: I wish I was deep instead of just macho)
    Focused on his initial acceptance and ultimate rejection of Schopenhauer’s Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, it sees his long standing (and oft times volatile) love affair with the model kit question its ultimate role as receptacle for the compartmentalisation of ethical behaviour.
    It asks the question: Is making scale models of death dealing war machines just as bad a jumping into a real one and dropping half a ton of explosive shit on some unsuspecting soul, and is it morally acceptable to build a model of a B-17 whilst the Stuka is abhorrent?
    He is eventually seen to discard the theory after realising that the dialectic of miniature aesthetic and its representation of horror versus scale accuracy is a fickle mistress.

    Interestingly, he was last seen to be wandering around the weed infested runway threshold of RAF Bentwaters with an empty bottle of Drambuie muttering…’what do we do now, what do we do now’?

    • Hush Kit

      I think I recall reading this as on the letters page of FineScale Modeller. In response to your intriguing commnet, I think it is important we do not forget how the categorical imperative affects the question of whether its worth painting the bits that nobody can see. HK

  2. SecretSpi

    I look forward to reading Dr Freud’s book in full. From the title, I surmise that the Oedipus complex with reference to the term ‘mother Ship’ will be discussed at length.

    • elleetoo

      Precisely – I feel that the failure here to confront the message of the B-36 / RF-84K combo is a lacuna which speaks volumes.

  3. Pingback: The Empire’s Ironclad: Flying & Fighting in the B-52 | Hush-Kit
  4. eel surfsnake


    But Freud does not explicate on the doubly phallic (as seen from the front) SR-71. Please, we must know Dr. Sigmund’s insights on a plane that flew faster than any other – but that half of which were lost in normal service.

    • Hush Kit

      das sogenannte ‘doppelphallussachertortetriebwerkeffekt’ ist aus den von Herr Freund geschriebenen Buch ‘Die Verwandlung des un-Selbst’ zu lesen. Leider ist dieses Buch verloren gegangen als Freud nach Pease Pottage umgezogen ist.

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