Just an FYI… the Gorean Philosophy Class at Gorean Campus has changed names. Name has changed, but teacher and amazing content is still the same! The class is now call The Gorean Compass – a Philosophical guide to Second Life Gor.
This is the transcript of this weeks class. If you would like to join in some amazingly interesting discussions then be sure to attend. Every Thursday at The Gorean Campus at 12pm (noon) and 6pm second life time.
Now… on with the class!
Tal and greetings Goreans.
Welcome to the third session of this seminar, and the good news is that we will finish up our discussion with that boring old Earth fellow, Nietzsche today.
In the previous session, we discussed the idea that the plots of the early novels were following a pattern from Nietzsche’s idea of abandoning otherworldliness and seeing it replaced with nihilist ideas.
If we had not been passed down a moral code from on high, then we had no moral code. This was reflected in the thoughts of Tarl Cabot in the Port Kar tavern when he saw only the negative and evil side of that city.
Although this was only a side light of Nietzsche’s solution, and he was often very vague about it, one of his ideas on how to move past this stage was called “eternal return.”
Wikipedia gives this definition of the concept:
“Eternal return (also known as eternal recurrence) is a hypothetical concept that posits that the universe has been recurring, and will continue to recur, in a self-similar form for an infinite number of times across infinite time or space. It is a purely physical concept, involving no supernatural reincarnation, but the return of beings in the same bodies.”
First, lets see how John Norman works this idea into the story.
At the end of Priest Kings of Gor, Tarl meets Misk the Priest King while he is traveling away from the Sardar Mountains. Misk discovers that Tarl has been given the information on the location of the last egg of the Priest Kings. It is somewhere, he has been told, in the Land of the Wagon People.
With only that small bit of information, a trip to the land of the Wagon Peoples to seek it out would be difficult, dangerous, and most likely futile, and Tarl refuses to do so. At first.
“The affairs of Priest Kings are not my affairs” , he tells Misk
He even thinks to himself that the saving of the Priest King race is not even in his best interest as a human being. Free from Priest Kings, and their restrictions on technology, the humans on Gor are free to develop weapons and the other things denied them.
Misk accepts Tarls decision, and does not push him, but as they talk, Misk finally makes this speech, laying out the idea of “eternal return.”
“But in the end, ” said he, “life is as real as death and there will be a return of the ultimate rhythms, and a new explosion will cast forth the primitive particles and we shall have another turn of the wheel, and someday, sometime, in eons which defy the calculations even of Priest-Kings, there may be another Nest, another Earth, and Gor, and another Misk and another Tarl Cabot to stand upon a windy hill in the moonlight and speak of strange things.”
Misk’s antennae looked down at me.
“Perhaps, he said, ” we have stood, on this hill, thusly, together, unknown to either of us , already an infinite number of times.”
Page 315 Priest Kings of Gor
Tarl sudden feels the wind blowing very cold and he asks Misk, “and what did we do?”
This gives Misk a chance to lay out a new moral code to guide men. With an understanding that “otherworldliness” must be overcome and man lifted to something higher, and a further understanding that this will not be done without some sort of meaning to our existence or guidelines to our behavior, Misk replies:
“I do not know what we did,” said Misk, “But I think I would now choose to do that action which I would be willing that I should do again and again with each turning of the wheel. I would choose so to live that I might be willing that should I live that life a thousand times, even forever, I would choose so to live that I might stand boldly with my deed without regret throughout eternity.” -page 315-316 Priest Kings of Gor
Tarl claims to be horrified by these words, but notes that Misk, representing the rational side of our nature,
“—-stood, the wind whipping his antennae, as though he were exalted.”
I have come to call this the “moral high ground” theory for my own personal process of decision making.
It is a very hard and demanding approach to life and to morality which is why it horrified the human with his split animal/rational make up, and exalted the Priest King with his purely rational approach.
It does not really involve a discussion of the concepts of right and wrong, especially as those concepts are often vague and filled with gray areas. They are, also, often again a reflection of society’s norms and other people’s interpretations, and even of laws and moral codes passed down from on high and enforced with the fear of punishment.
This is more like the United State’s Army’s recruiting slogan, “Be the Best that you can be” or even the simple Boy Scout slogan of ,,”do your best.”
It really puts it all in our laps and makes it our personal responsibility to decide what course of action, in any given situation, is the course of action that we would be able to live with “boldly and with no regrets” even if the same situation repeated itself a million times in an endless cycle.
Tarl Cabot says his farewells to Misk, and rejoins his companions, who in an ironic twist, not understanding who or what Misk really is, are busy praying to the Priest Kings to save them.
Then, he asks for directions to the Land of the Wagon Peoples, thus paving the way for the next book, “Nomads of Gor.” and the introduction of some memorable characters, such as Kamchak of the Tuchuks.
I have been speaking of some of the ideas from the philosophy of Nietzsche that obviously influenced John Norman as he crafted his Gorean world and related the adventures of Tarl Cabot.
As my good friend, Zembel, pointed out last week, I might have over done the use of the term, “Ubermensch” in this discussion, as the term as Nietzsche used it is a vague one and does not fit this model perfectly, especially in the idea of “taking the best of both worlds” as John Norman seems to use it in the Gorean novels.
However, there is little doubt that John Norman is crafting an idea of a “superior man.” He is going to have to be humbled a bit, as most of us are at one time or another, to recognize his humanity, but ultimately, he will emerge stronger, more human, more aware of his animal nature, but with more respect for rationality.
It is a hero model that I see reflected in the books again and again. I even see it in popular fiction and even movies. For example, I recently watched “The Outlaw Josie Wales” a Clint Eastwood film. At the beginning of the movie, Redlegs from Kansas have burned his home, killed his wife and child, and left him for dead. When a band of pro-southern men come along, they tell him they are going up North to “set things aright.” And Josie says, “I reckon I will be coming with you.”
Tarl , in the books to come is always heading off on an adventure to “set things aright” Like Josie, he is often hard, and deadly, but never is he unfair, cruel or sadistic. No one is going to mistake him for a goody-goody, or even a Social Justice Warrior. He is not concerned with Politically Correct behavior, or terrified of giving offense to anyone.
However, he is brutally honest, and seems to face each decision by asking himself one quick question. “Will I behave now , in such a manner, as I may stand boldly with my deed, with each turning of the wheel.”
This idea , to me, permeates the early Gorean novels. It has led many people who have encountered Goreans who understand it and practice it, to see us as snobs. People who look down on others and sneer at weakness.
In the early days of my online experience, I used to defend against these attacks and criticisms. Now, I no longer do so.
I tell people that our point of view is not about making judgement calls about them, or worrying muchly about their weakness or their acceptance of mediocrity..
It is all about us. Individuals, facing decisions and challenges in our life and facing them with the tough and scary mandate that we will act in a manner that is as correct, honorable, courageous, and moral as we can possibly comprehend it to be. content with our decisions, willing to make them again and again with each turning of the wheel.
To my lifestyle friends, I tell them that the Gorean lifestyle is not about wearing tunics, carrying swords, and leading naked girls about Walmart on a leash. It is about living to that higher standard of behavior regardless of the pressures of the society around us to alter it, weaken it, or betray it.
To my roleplay friends, I tell them that I understand the ‘fun” in role playing the evil and wrong of Gor. To pretend to be the bad guys instead of pretending to be the good guys, but you need to understand that this is not really what BTB ought to mean. I encourage more storylines that are about ‘setting things aright”, more storylines of people holding themselves to the highest personal standards of behavior. More storylines about searching for, fighting for, and defending the moral high ground, and fewer about wallowing in the depravity and cruelty of Gor.
However, in the end, like Tarl when he realizes that he can not use his escape from the Sardar to push his own agenda on the Goreans, and he realizes that Man will only pull himself up if he does it by pulling himself up by his own bootstraps, I realize I can not use my position as instructor to push my own agenda on the students. That is why I like to call this a seminar and not a “class.”
I have found these ideas useful to me in my role play, in my real life, and in my understanding of the Gorean world I love so much. If the wheel, does indeed continue to turn, and we do indeed find ourselves back here at this classroom again and again an infinite number of times, I will stand boldly with the words I speak today, and with no regrets.
Thank you again, Master Gorm. Much to think about and apply to our roleplay and our every day lives!
Be sure not to miss Master Gorm’s next class. Thursday at 12pm (noon) and 6pm SLT at The Gorean Campus