The Gorean Compass class held on Febuary 16th at The Gorean Campus. Presented by Master Gorn he speaks about the attraction that Gor holds for many despite the changing attitudes of our current society.
Tal and Greetings
I would like to begin todays talk with some thoughts related to the last seminar and especially one of the comments made during the lively discussion that followed. It was suggested that neither Desmond Morris, the author of “The Naked Ape” nor John Norman, the author of the Gor novels had the necessary academic backgrounds or the respect and support of the current generation of scientist and researchers.
Therefore, their ideas on the genetic endowment of human beings and how it impacts their behaviors can not be argued as a viable concept based on their writings or opinions on the subject. I totally agree with this.
However, the purpose of the Gorean Compass seminar is to not argue the validity of the Gorean experience or to suggest that the author had some remarkable insights somehow overlooked by others.
The Gorean idea, especially as laid out in the early novels that shaped the fictional world of Gor, was never meant to be a religion, and the people who have come to love and understand Gor are in no way evangelicals out to convert the world to their way of thinking.
There is actually very little new in the ideas presented in the novels. It has been compared to a recipe for Grandma’s special cake. Grandma used the same ingredients that others had been using, but mixed them in a unique way to produce her cake. The ideas bouncing around in the Gor novels have been, likewise, used and developed by others and combined in a new and unique way.
It was obvious that the books were a platform not merely for producing a new and interesting Sci-Fi World, but for reflecting on some of the social conditions existing or coming into existence at the time they were written.
My purpose is to disclose the ideas presented in the books, not as their champion always, but as one seeking to understand not only what was being said, but why what was being said had so strongly resonated with so many people that from the very birth of the internet, readers joined together to recreate, discuss, role play, and even make life style choices based on Gor.
The notecard that was passed out today contains a lengthy passage from Hunters of Gor that seems to clearly state the authors position on the controversy between “Nature and Nurture” that has raged on forever. The statement. “Goreans do not accept the Hollow Man theory.” clearly shows that the fictional Goreans were much less likely to accept any idea that Nurture, or the environment and social circumstances totally shape us. It expresses the same idea put forth in The Naked Ape, that we are still somewhat trapped by a genetic endowment , or hard wiring, that has a least equal impact as the present environment.
Of course, an attraction to the trivia has often been cited as the reason for Gor’s lure. I have talked with many people, especially within the “Gor Evolved” community who give that answer to the question of “why Gor?” They say they are fascinated by the trappings. The swords, and slaves, and sleen with six legs, and Tarns, and even the primitive culture which puts them in mind of other fan favorites like “Game of Thrones.” This explains why they are so comfortable with “evolving” their Gorean interaction until their Gorean role play resembles a giant costume party on Earth, where normal people are dressed in their Gorean clothes. It is almost like Gor was emptied of the native Goreans and the empty planet was occupied by a host of Social Justice Warriors from the University of California at Berkley.
And while I have believed most of these people and understand the “game” idea they bring to Gor, I have also questioned many of them as to just how detached from the philosophical ideas they really are. There is no way to deny the appeal of fun. I have always understood that games like “Grand Theft Auto” are popular, not because people like to steal cars, or that they have a philosophical belief in running over old ladies to score points. The game is simply fun.
And so, I am sure many of our Goreans in Second Life are playing Gor, and playing it their way simply because it is fun.
Many others, however, even some reluctant to admit it, or not even fully cognizant of it, are in Gor because of the draw of its counter Earth and radical ideas.
If we spend too much time in Second Life Gor and our friends and associates are mostly others here, we can easily be misled into thinking we are something more than a very, very small minority. And the views from the book, that what might be called “Gorean philosophy”, or as I prefer, the azimuth of the Gorean Compass, represent some of the most unpopular and rejected views of modern Western society. The dominance of males, the submission of females, a more rigid identity that needs to be discovered rather than changed at will, and many other core concepts are the very things people are taking to the streets of Earth to protest against.
Yet despite this, or maybe, because of it, the Gorean community continues to grow and to attract new and often younger than ever before recruits.
So, I want to make this very clear. I do not stand up here as an advocate for every radical and conservative idea that John Norman wrote into the novels. Nor do I want to convert you to them. My purpose is to explore the books, and try to make sense of what the author wanted to say, and how current conditions on Earth might be making him look more like a prophet or maybe more like a hack.
Last year, when I decided to do a “defense of non-consensual slavery” from a Gorean point of view, I invited a real Gorean from the fictional planet who happened to have a SL account to come present it. I could not defend non-consensual slavery which I abhor even from a detached intellectual approach. I just couldn’t do it. “smiles”
So, I do not take a firm stand on the “Nature vs Nurture” debate, nor do totally accept the idea expressed by the comment from the books that “man had finally built a house in which he could not live.” What I do know is that this is a main theme of the Gorean novels and understanding it is essential to understanding the totality of the books.
Remember this essential point as well. John Norman was not suggesting Gor as a Utopia that did everything right that Earth was doing wrong. He deliberately created flaws in the Gorean world view that contrasted as direct opposites to the flaws of Earth. I have suggested that he was offering us a blue print for the “superior man” that did straddle both worlds and focused on the idea of balance. The idea of balance suggests that danger and confusion exists on the extremes and safety and sanity exists in the middle.
Look at the example in the handout. It does not deny the importance of environment. “The teeth of the lion has much to do with the fleetness of the antelope”, it says. Yet, it does not deny either the importance of nature either. “The environment decides which behaviors will be successful and not which ones will be performed.”
It is not necessary to totally buy into this. You may very well believe, like a majority do today, that we have, indeed, broken from the surly bonds of our genetic endowment and have entered a whole new enlightened age as superior beings already. However, it is necessary to accept that this is the “By the Books” construct that will make sense of the novels.
Next week, we will begin to explore the great symbolism of the Priest-Kings vs Kur battle for control of both “Gor and Earth.” To completely understand this symbolism, it is not necessary to accept any of this as true, but it is important to accept that John Norman thought it to be so, and crafted his novels to reflect these ideas.
There is a mystery here. Society has pretty much rejected much of what John Norman wrote about, and not only that but people here in the Gorean community are outspoken in their criticism of his ideas, his writing style, his motivations, and even his intelligence, and yet, Gor is and remains a popular and ever growing community that spans the world wide web and has both positively and negatively impacted the real life of people who have been drawn to it.
Maybe it is only because it is “fun.” But, maybe it is something more. This seminar is a search for questions, not a place where answers are given. To paraphrase Tarl Cabot: “I envy the simplicities of the morality of Earth and the morality of Gor. If either is correct, it is a lucky accident, but I would not be as either of them. Truths not fought for are not owned.”
It would be nice to say everything is going along smoothly and as it should on Earth, and nice to say that Gor’s attraction is just because sleen have six legs and there are two kinds of paga and five High Castes, but, I do not think either of those ideas is true.
Maybe we will not find any answers or truths in the Gorean novels, but the purpose of this seminar, again, is not to proclaim truth, but to search and fight for it.
Thank you, Master Gorm! These classes are always excellent and often elicit some great discussions and give food for thought.
Don’t miss the next class to be held on Thursday at The Gorean Campus at 12pm (noon) and 6pm SLT.