Another in the continuing classes from Master Gorm Runo. Further discussion on symbolism within the books and the topic of balance. An acceptance of our dark side along with our good side. Master Gorm offers these classes every Thursday at The Gorean Campus at 12pm(noon) and 6pm SLT. All are welcome to attend and join in the discussion!
Tal and greetings
In our last session, we talked about the dark side represented by the Kur and our first introduction to them in Captive of Gor and Marauders of Gor. They were the evil and animalistic beasts and we had to be strong to resist them.
It could be suggested, on a very simplistic level, that the Priest Kings represent the good guys and the Kur represent the bad guys. The Priest Kings represent everything rational and spiritual about humans and the Kur represent everything evil and animal.
Of course, anytime this is brought up in a discussion between people who have actually read most of the books, someone is going to insert a big, “but” into the conversation. This happened last week when we were reminded about the friendship and mutual respect that developed between Tarl Cabot and the Kur general named “Half Ear” or Zarendagar.
The meeting that takes place between them in book 12, Beasts of Gor, is a major turning point in the plot of the series. It might be argued that this marks the end of the transformation process turning Tarl into a full blown Gorean rather than the end of Marauders of Gor where he actually says, “I am Gorean.”
At the end of Marauders, he is still viewing the Kur as an enemy. At the end of Beasts, he has come to understand that, like pretty much everything else, this is not as black and white as it first appears.
If you have not read Beasts of Gor, here is a quick plot outline. Most of the book is concerned with Tarl’s journey to the far north of Gor where is encounters a large Kur supply complex. Tarl has many adventures on the way North which takes up the majority of the book, but at the end, he finally reaches the Kur complex where he defeats the Kur forces and takes control of the complex.
Rather than surrender, the Kur commander sets off a “self destruct” device, that will blow up the complex keeping the supplies and more importantly the codes and information on the Kur from falling into the hands of the Priest Kings. Out of respect for Tarl and concern for the humans who fought under Kur command in the battle,the Kur uses a device with a time delay allowing the humans time to escape the blast.
Two meetings take place between Tarl and the Kur. A translator is used so they can communicate as the Kur language is a series of grunts that are totally alien to human hearing, and I suppose vice versa for human language. But, the translator makes a conversation possible. The first conversation begins on page 364 of the book and includes chapters 31 and 32.
Among other things, we learn a bit about the evolution of the Kur species and some details concerning their genders and reproduction as well as mating and other rituals. We also learn that long ago, they destroyed their beautiful home world and now live in massive steel spaceships.
People wishing to indulge in the “search for symbolism” game can have a field day with these two chapters. I have always shown a bit of restraint, unusual for me, here as I see much of it as plot advancement and the fleshing out of the major antagonist in the story. There is also a prime example of how the books were used as a mirror to look at Earth. The Kur tells Tarl the following:
“I know little of humans, ” it said, “but it is my understanding that most of them are liars and hypocrites. I do not include you in this general charge.”
“They think of themselves as civilized animals, and yet they are only animals with a civilization. There is quite a difference.”
“Admittedly.” I said.
“Those of Earth, as I understand it, which is your home world, are the most despicable. They are petty. They mistake weakness for virtue. They take their lack of appetite, their incapacity to feel, as a merit. How small they are. The more they betray their own nature the more they congratulate themselves on their perfection. And they put economic gain above all. Their greed and their fevered scratching repulses me.”
page 368 Beasts of Gor.
This betrayal of our basic nature and patting ourselves on the back for it is a theme repeated over and over in the early books, usually coming from Tarl’s own reflections back on Earth, but now it comes from the Kur general.
From the very beginning of the conversation between Tarl and Zarandagar , it is easy to see the mutual respect. The Kur has even gone to the trouble of getting Tarl’s favorite brand of paga , proudly pointing out the label that shows it to be bottled in AR by a brewer named Temus.
This all makes a great deal of sense in the overall symbolic understanding of the books. Our own nature can not be made into our enemy. It is something that must be controlled and even fought against at times, but it can never be an enemy.
After Beasts of Gor, and Tarl’s meeting with the Kur general, the stage is set for the balanced Gorean mindset. it is a merger of the rational and the animal. It is a call to counter the accusation of the Kur that we are, indeed, despicable and petty.
Zarandagar’s little critique of humans can be reversed to give us what might be called the Gorean perspective on what makes a “superior” person. We should never be petty. We should never mistake weakness for virtue. We do not deny our appetites or celebrate an incapacity to feel. We do not congratulate ourselves for betraying our true natures, but rather aggressively seek them out and celebrate them. And we are not materialistic above all else, but rather see other qualities besides the size of bank accounts as the true measure of worth.
I have always seen this merger of the rational and the animal as the true attraction of our online Second Life Gorean world. And yet, I think we continue to bring too much of Earth culture to it even in our attempts to role play it and create stories about it. The conditioning is sometimes way to strong to easily cast it off and we are, as Second Life Goreans, weak, petty, and despicable just as the Kur general describes us.
Despite this, and especially, in Second Life Gor, there has always been a core of dedicated people that have tried to move beyond the conditioning to create a world that is alive and vibrant. It is a world full of passion and feeling and beauty. A world where we seek out truths and savor life to the fullest. That is our Gor.
But, I want to conclude this talk today with a warning. Near the end of this first talk in Chapter 32, the Kur makes this comment.
“I am not fond of modern weapons,” it said. “An egg-carrier or even a nondominant could use them. They put one at too great a distance from the kill. They can be effective, and that is their justification, but they are, in my opinion, boring. They tend to rob one of the joy of the hot kill. That is the greatest condemnation of them. They take the pleasure out of killing” It looked at me. What can compare, ” it asked, “with the joy of real victory? of true victory? When one has risked one’s life openly and then after a hard-fought contest, has one’s enemy at one’s feet, lacerated and bleeding and dying, and can then tear him in victory and feast in his body, what can compare with the joy of that?” – page 377 Beasts of Gor
It is a reminder of what Tarl realized in Marauders of Gor. we can no more yield totally to the animal than we can totally yield to the unfeeling rational side. We may share paga with the Kur and embrace much of what our instincts tell us is our true nature, but we must be aware of the dangers and the harm and hurt we are capable of inflicting when we have totally surrendered ourselves to the darker side of our natures. There are two concepts that we must cling to as humans and Goreans and those are balance and more balance.