Gorean Compass class 1 – Realism

Class given at Gorean Campus on February 2, 2017 by Master Gorm Runo.  This class dealt with realism as one major quality of the Gorean ethos:

Tal and Greetings.

When I used to give classes in a now defunct Gorean educational institute that came long before our esteemed Gorean Campus, I always included “realism” as one of the major qualities of the Gorean ethos.

We might say that a realistic and more rigid approach would be one of the azimuths of the Gorean Compass.

In notecard #1, that should be passed out today, there is an important section from the very first book, Tarnsman of Gor, that tells of a meeting between Tarl Cabot and Marlenus of Ar.

Notecard # 1    Page 155 Tarnsman of Gor

“I risked my life a thousand times and gave the years of my youth to the vision of Ar and its empire, that there might be on all Gor, but one language, but one commerce, but one set of codes, that the highways and passes might be safe, that the peasants might cultivate their fields in peace, that there might be one Council to decide matters of policy, that there might be but one supreme city to unite the cylinders of a hundred severed, hostile cities—-and all this you have destroyed.”Marlenus looked down at me.  “What can you, a simple tarnsman, know of these things?’ he asked.  “But I, Marlenus, though a warrior, was more than a warrior, always more than a warrior. Where others could see no more than the codes of their castes, where other could sense no call of duty beyond that of their Home Stone, I dared to dream the dream of Ar—that there might be an end to meaningless warfare, bloodshed, and terror, an end to the anxiety and peril, the retribution and cruelty that cloud our lives.—I dreamed that there might arise from the ashes of the conquests of AR a new world, a world of honor, law, of power and justice.”


Marlenus is telling of what he calls “the dream of Ar” and is actually a more Utopian vision of Gorean society.  He sees the entire planet ruled by a single Council that brings peace, security and happiness to everyone.  He goes on the make an important point about “the sword is what establishes justice.”

This is often taken as “might makes right”, and was often used by the critics of Gor who see it as a very authoritarian approach to morality.  Actually, it is more an indictment of the evil and animal nature of mankind and suggests that it was only through a great deal of struggle, often violent, struggle, was mankind able to establish law and justice and bring civilization to the world

Here is the quote that I want to speak of today:

“Marlenus was patient.  “Before the sword,” he said, “there is no right or wrong, only fact—a world of what is and what is not, rather than a world of what should be and what should not be.” – page 156 Tarnsman of Gor

A World of what is and what is not, rather than a world of what should be and what should not be!  This was always the Gorean call to realism and a rejection of social engineering and utopian dreaming that marks so many other works of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and sets Goreans on the far fringe of modern western society.


The advertising on the back of my ancient copy of this book proclaims:

“The naked truth about the animal called human.  Man is a creature who can write immortal poetry, raise giant cities, aim for the stars, build an atomic bomb–but he is also an animal, a relative of the apes.”

Last year, during a session here at the Gorean Campus, a critic claimed that “modern thinkers” had thoroughly debunked Desmond Morris.

Morris was claiming that we are so genetically wired by millions of years of evolution that we are pretty much naked apes who would be more comfortable in the mouth of a cave than in the confines of our great cities, and need to understand our animal natures much better to be able to cope with the stress of modern society.

The debunkers, anxious to prove that false, claimed that actually, somehow, we have thrown off the shackles of evolution and evolved very quickly into some kind of superior being so advanced that we can alter even our genders at will and have this tremendous freedom and fluidity totally free from genetic influences.

I am reminded of a study I read in Cosmopolitan Magazine around the same time that “The Naked Ape” was being published.

It had done research and had discovered that children being raised in single parent homes after divorce were not impacted negatively by the experience, and some indicators were pointing to them actually being more successful in school and life as a result.

Half a century later, we know better.

But, the readers at the time wanted validation and assurance that the new found feminism that was producing a skyrocking divorce rate and the disintegration of the traditional family was not harming the children, and the study gave them what they wanted.


The major trend of Western Society is toward “fluidity.”

Everyday, we hear the phrase, “whatever he identifies with at the time.”

We are told that the number of genders is increasing constantly and there are no biological imperatives, they were all discarded in the delivery room along with the umbilical cords.

In notecard #2, , you will find the closing words of the “The Naked Ape.” You can see that he is anticipating the debunking and calls the modern optimism rubbish.

Note Card #2  The Naked Ape    Page 197

Optimism is expressed by some who feel that since we have evolved a high level of intelligence and a strong inventive urge, we shall be able to twist any situation to our advantage; that we are so flexible that we can re-mould our way of life to fit any of the new demands made by our rapidly rising species-status; that when the time comes, we shall manage to cope with the overcrowding, the stress, the loss of our privacy and independence of action; that we shall re-model our behavior patterns and live like giant ants; that we shall control our aggressive and territorial feelings, our sexual impulse and our parental tendencies; that if we have to become battery-chicken apes, we can do it; that our intelligence can dominate all our basic biological urges. I submit that this is rubbish.  Our raw animal nature will never permit it.  Of course, we are flexible.  Of course, we are behavioural opportunists,  but there are severe limits to the form our opportunism can take.  By stressing our biological features in this book, I have tried to show the nature of these restrictions.  By recognizing them clearly and submitting to them, we shall stand a much better chance of survival.  This does not imply a naïve “return to nature.” It simply means that we should tailor our intelligent opportunist advances to our basic behavioural requirements.  We must somehow improve in quality rather than in sheer quantity.  If we do this, we can continue to progress technologically in a dramatic and exciting way without denying our evolutionary inheritance.  If we do not, then our suppressed biological urges will build up and up until the dam bursts and the whole of our elaborate existence is swept away in the flood.

Note card # 3, contains a passage from Priest Kings of Gor. It is one of the earliest of several passages in the early novels where Tarl reflects on the biological imperatives and how they have shaped humans.

Notecard #3 – Priest Kings of Gor

As the girl spoke and I tried to lightly dismiss her words I wondered at the long processes of evolution that had nurtured over thousands of generations what had in time become the human kind. I wondered of the struggles of my own world as well as on Gor, struggles which over millenia had shaped the blood and inmost being of my species, perhaps conflicts over tunnels in cliffs to be fought with the savage cave bear, long dangerous weeks spent hunting the same game as the saber -toothed tiger, perhaps years spent protecting one’s mate and brood from the depredations of carnivores and the raids of one’s fellow creatures.

As I thought of our primeval ancestor standing in the mouth of his cave one hand gripping a chipped stone and perhaps the other a torch, his mate behind him and his young hidden in the mosses at the back of the cave I wondered at the genetic gifts that would insure the survival of man in so hostile a world, and I wondered if among them would not be the strength and the aggressiveness and the swiftness of the eye and hand and the courage of the male and on the part of the woman-what?

What would have been the genetic truths in her blood without which she and accordingly man himself might have been overlooked in the vicious war of a species to remain alive and hold its place on an unkind and save planet?

It seemed possible to me that one trait of high survival value might be the desire on the part of a woman to belong-utterly-to a man.

It seemed clear that the woman would, if the race were to survive, have to be sheltered and defended and fed-and forced to reproduce her kind.

If she were too independent she would die in such a world and if she did not mate her race would die.

Priest Kings of Gor, pgs, 204 – 205.


I have always been especially drawn to the image of the primeval ancestor standing in the mouth of his cave, his mate behind him, and his children hidden in the moss in the back of the cave to the image.  In his hand is a primitive weapon and he stands ready to ward off whatever dangers appear.

In the coming weeks, when we talk of the symbolism in the novels, we will discuss how the genetic wiring and the animal nature that still defines us is represented.

Tarl talks of the struggle to control these things and bring order to the duality of his nature.  He says,

“One can not be weak who meets such beasts. I laughed at the weaknesses instilled into the men of Earth.  Only men who are strong, without weakness, can meet such beasts. One must match them in strength, in intellect, in terribleness, in ferocity.”  -Page 290 Marauders of Gor.

It would be easy to accept the fluidity of modern times.  It is easy to deny biological truths about ourselves; about natural order; of the importance of Manhood, and the essential submissive nature of the female.  There is much to like about the freedom of unrestricted identity and much to fear about impulses bred into us over millions or years that we must battle and control to survive in a much changed world.

It would be so much easier to live in the world of how it should be, and to make how it should not be into the object of our scorn.

However, the follower of the Gorean ethos has no choice but to side with the minority opinion and to be seen as old fashioned outdated, overly conservative, and definitely a follower of an alternative world view.

We need to see ourselves on the fringe, and work to structure our interactions in Second Life Gor, and even our Gorean roleplay along very conservative lines.

We need to guard against bringing into it the influences of an “evolved majority” that rejects the idea that we are hard wired a certain way and suggests that modern man has slipped the surly bonds of evolutionary selection.

The well known Gorean myth of the giant running an Inn in his cave tells us this as well.

In the myth, the Inn has only one size bed, and the giant puts guests on the rack to make them fit the bed if they are too short, and chops off limbs if they are too tall .


The question is asked, why do we attempt to change people to fit the bed, rather than change the bed to fit people.

It suggests that people have a reality and they do well and are healthy and happy when they discover that reality and when the world around them changes to accommodate that reality.

They do not do as well when they reject it or try to artificially alter it to fit the world.

There is no question that true followers of the Gorean Compass are in the minority, they are even a mocked and scorned minority, but they are living in the world of “what is and what is not and acknowledge that even if it is a noble thing to consider what should and should not be, we are not yet evolved enough to abandon reality for the unicorn ideas of utopia


We need to still stand with a weapon in our hand, at the mouth of our cave, with our females behind us, and our children hidden in the moss at the back of the cave.

at least for a little longer.


Thank you Master Gorm for another very enlightening class.  You’ve given us much to think about.  Be sure to attend more classes of The Gorean Compass at The Gorean Campus on Thursdays 12pm (noon) and 6pm!


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