Once again presenting the transcript from Master Gorm’s class on Gorean Philosophy at Gorean Campus. This class was held on 1/12/2017.
Just are reminder, these classes are held every Thursday at The Gorean Campus in Second Life at 12:00pm (Noon) and 6pm SLT.
Tal and greetings Goreans.
Today, we are going to continue laying the groundwork for a new look at the message of the Gorean Novels, and how an understanding of some of the underlying themes of the novels can enhance our experience in Second Life Gor.
In last weeks introduction to this seminar, I attempted to make two major points.
The first was that the Gorean novels in no way were intended to be a utopian view of a counter earth. The whole Counter Earth idea was opposition. The things that were the most wrong on Earth were better on Gor, and the things that were right on Earth were really wrong on Gor. I suspect, in my own humble opinion, that the author never doubted that the readers would get this, but he also never dreamed of the internet, and the online community and role play, and lifestyle Goreans. I wonder if he had known these things, would he have written the novels differently?
The second idea that I introduced was something strongly influenced by the writing of Friedrich Nietzsche. The discussion in the second class session was useful in clarifying that the Gorean philosophy had only borrowed a few things from Nietzsche, while discarding other elements, and in no way held up the entirety of his work, or his personal behavior as a role model for us.
We did speak of his idea of the Ubermensch. The superior man that blends the very best of both worlds and rises to a much higher standard as a result. It was suggested that Tarl Cabot’s journey showed how the two extremes eventually found balance and that a superior man had emerged.
Today, I want to touch on two more elements from Nietzsche that influence the Gorean novels.
The first concerns religion. It is one of those topics that, along with politics, we are warned to avoid in polite discussions. Nietzsche’s views on religion were very complex and were a major theme of much of his work. One thing that it is very safe to conclude is that he was very negative on what we would call organized religion, more specifically Christianity.
I found it of interest that the idea of opposition in the Counter Earth model missed out in this area. The main religion of Gor and its adherents were painted in a totally negative way. All that was wrong with organized religion on Earth was “wronger” on Gor. The Caste of Initiates was constantly painted with a very negative brush ranging from absurd rituals and practices to the wicked and corrupt Initiates that dabbled in politics and sought personal enrichment.
Friedrich Nietzsche spoke of “otherworldliness.” He said that it had been holding back the real advancement of the human race with its focus on reward and punishment, and a moral code passed on to man and enforced by a higher power not of Earth. In Tarl Cabot’s famous comparison of Earth and Gorean morality, the slave morality is a reflection of this idea. That morality is the morality imposed on us by the higher power, and not a morality with its origins in the hearts and souls of man himself.
In Priest Kings of Gor, we see this Nietzsche idea guide the plot. Tarl Cabot emerges from the Sardar at the exact moment all the Gorean religious leaders are burning a bosk thigh to appease the “gods.” For a moment, he thinks to use this event to push his own morality on the Goreans. After all, in Earth terms, he has just returned from Heaven where he had an adventure with God himself, and he figures people will do what he tells them. The moment is lost as the Initiates use the events to fit their own agenda.
But, this story ends with Tarl having a talk with the High Initiate of AR, who tells him that not only does he have some knowledge of the reality of Priest Kings, and the foolishness of the rituals and beliefs of his own caste, he is an enlightened one, a budding Ubermensch himself, who realizes that religion exists to be overcome. That man will never rise to his full potential unless he does it by pulling himself up by his own bootstraps.
Here is the very heart of the exchange from the book.
“We speak not to man’s heart, ” said Om, “but only to his fear. We do not speak of love and courage, and loyalty and nobility, but to practice and observance and the punishment of Priest Kings—-for if we spoke so, it would be that much harder for man to grow beyond us. Thus, unknown to most members of my caste, we exist to be overcome. Thus in our way, pointing the way to man’s greatness.”
Pages 300, 301 Priest Kings of Gor.
Tarl’s affirmation of his release from the slave mentality of otherworldliness comes in Marauders in the Tomb of Torvald, when he says,
“”If the land is to be saved, it is by us, and others like us, that it must be saved. There are no spells, no gods, no heroes to save us. In this chamber, it is not Torvald who must awaken. It is you and I.
Page 235 Marauders of Gor
The Nietzszsche influence should be clear in both quotes. The idea that otherworldliness is holding us back and must be overcome.
I can not recall a single time that religious belief as it pertains to Gor was ever the topic of a single public discussion. However, I have engaged in many private discussions with concerned and confused individuals who were having trouble reconciling their own beliefs with the Gorean morality or lack of it in certain cases.
It is obvious that such things as slavery, paga sluts, brutal forced collarings, and a host of other Gorean blemishes would cause such trouble, and for those people the answer would be found in the “theme of the Gorean novels , #2” from last week. Gor sucked, but for different reasons.
Yet the UberMensch idea rejects the same things, lumping them in the “why so hard” bin. The true conflict that they face is the Gorean rejection of slave morality. When the negative aspects of Gorean culture are viewed as fodder for nothing more than game type role play, they create little or no conflict. When confronted with a culture that is focused on love, courage, loyalty, and nobility, rather than practice, observance, and the punishment of Priest-Kings as Om puts it, they are at the point where they have to decide how that jives with their own individual beliefs.
Put another way, the personal spiritual beliefs of Friedrich Nietzsche and John Norman have very little to do with our own spiritual beliefs. If we listen to what they are telling us, we would know they would be the first to affirm that. We are supposed to be out searching for our own truths, fighting for the understanding of them. Freeing ourselves from the slave mentality that forces us to behave out of fear rather than enlightenment.
In Nietzsche’s time, and in European culture especially, religion was waning and being replaced with the idea of nihilism. This is a belief that life has no real meaning. There is no longer a set of moral codes passed on in holy books, or in any other form, and so there is no real morality at all.
Tarl Cabot passes through the nihilism stage beginning in Raiders of Gor, when he loses his honor, and actually continuing on through book 8, Hunters of Gor. He admits to seeing no good in anything, (Port Kar becomes a sort of nihilistic city symbol)
In Raiders, he tells us this:
“I hated Port Kar, and all that was of it. And I hated myself, for I, too, was of Port Kar. That I had learned this night. I would never forget this night. All that was in Port Kar was rotten and worthless. There was no good in her.
The curtain from one of the alcoves was flung apart. There stood there, framed In its conical threshold, Surbus, he who was a captain of Port Kar. I looked at him with loathing, despising him. How ugly he was, with his fierce beard, the narrow eyes, the ear gone from the right side of his face. I had heard of him, and well, I knew him to be pirate; and I knew him to be slaver, and murderer, and thief; I knew him to be a cruel and worthless man, abominable, truly of Port Kar and, as I looked on him, the filth and rottenness, I felt nothing but disgust.”
Page 120-121 Raiders of Gor
My understanding of both Nietzsche and Norman was that they welcomed the onset of nihilism because it signaled the abandonment of otherworld driven morality and paved the way for the advent of the Superior man. In the following passage, Samos, a native born Gorean, and at this stage still Tarl’s mentor, speaks to this.
“When you lost your images of yourselves, and learned your humanity, in your diverse ways, and shame, you abandoned your myths, your songs, and would accept only the meat of animals, as though one so lofty, as yourself must be either Priest-King or beast. Your pride demanded either the perfection of the myth or the perfection of its most villainous renunciation. If you were not the highest, you would demand to be the lowest; if you were not the best, you would be nothing less than the worst; if there was not the myth there was to be nothing.” Samos now spoke softly. “There is something,” he said, “between the fancies of poets and the biting and the rooting and sniffing of beasts”
“What?” I asked.
“Man, ” he said.
Page 311 Raiders of Gor
“If there was not the myth there was to be nothing” says Samos.
“After the abandonment of otherworldliness comes nihilism” says Nietzsche.
Over the years that a Gorean community has flourished here in Second Life, this same drama has played out numerous times. Otherworldliness has been represented by those people who have seen the Gorean novels as sacred writ. To my embarassment, the Wikipedia article on “Gor” mentions that many Goreans refer to the novels as “The Scrolls.” Many of our sims focus everything on what Om called practice and observance, and fear of the wrath of Moderators telling you that you have a minor detail wrong.
They miss the underlying message of individualism and do not listen to Tarl Cabot’s message that we are not entitled to truths for which we have not fought, and blindly follow websites and struggle to get the smallest detail exactly right “by the books.”
Mixing with them, and often in conflict with them, are the nihilists. They tell us the books have no meaning at all, and we are taking the whole thing way too seriously, as we were told by a student in last weeks discussion. The nihilist like to tell us that the books are poorly written, make no sense, are full of contradictions, and are just poor sci fi anyway. Sometimes they go as far as Tarl in Port Kar and tell us that Gor is actually a stupid, evil, totally disgusting thing, that they enjoying role playing, but can not accept that anyone would see any worth to it beyond that.
So, in the writings of Nietzsche, and in the plot structure of the early novels there is, represented by Tarl Cabot’s adventures, a movement from otherwordliness to nihilism, and a conflict looking for resolution. Perhaps, in the solution found in the books, is a clue to the solution for the conflict and division in Second Life Gor. Next week, this seminar will delve a bit further into this idea and hopefully, we will find some clues that might help us better understand not only the themes of the novels, but the root causes of the chaos of Second Life Gor.
Thank you Master Gorm for offering such interesting insights into the Gorean novels and how they relate to Second Life Gor.
We welcome all to come to these classes and give us your input. Classes are held at The Gorean Campus in Second Life every Thursday at 12:00pm (noon) and 6pm SLT.