This week’s offering from the Gorean Compass, a class that is taught at the Gorean Campus within Second Life every Thursday at 12pm (noon) and 6pm. All are welcome to attend these classes. There are always interesting discussions which follow each lecture.
Tal and Greetings
When we have done these seminars in the past, the concept of duality often arises. With this duality is conflict as well. By that I mean, it is our animal nature pitted against our rational nature as represented by the struggle of the Priest-Kings and the Kur for “the hearts and minds” of Earth and Gor.
Today, I have a few comments on a different duality and conflict. A quick online search yielded two different definitions for the word, “materialism.” The second one was a philosophical one that had to do with matter and its interaction in the physical world.
The first one, however, was the one I was seeking.
a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.
When we look at the Gorean world as portrayed in the novels of John Norman, we can see that this conflict exists on Gor as it does on Earth. Although the Goreans are restricted by technology, this does not restrict them in the quest for material possessions and they certainly have a high regard for physical comfort.
From a role play point of view, we can expect that the Goreans, being human, as the people of Earth, are just as likely to suffer from a tendency to consider wealth and comfort as more important than spiritual values.
Role play characters that are excessively greedy or overly hedonistic would be perfectly logical. Examples of both are common in the books. Although some of these characters meet bad ends in the books, this does not mean that others do not thrive. I would suspect that many people on Gor live greedy and selfish lives and suffer few repercussions from society for doing so.
One of the things we have been doing in this seminar is to examine the message of the author and to see how this message was transmitted in the fiction of the novels.
We have talked about a message that actually calls the reader to a higher standard of behavior. This was expressed in the idea of the “superior man” who takes the good from Gor while rejecting the wrong, and then does the same thing with Earth. Put simply, as we have said frequently here: Ask Gor, why so hard? and ask Earth, why so soft?
There is a definite anti-materialistic message in the novels. This message is expressed again and again.
We discussed Tarl Cabot’s meeting with the Kur general in previous classes. The Kur spoke of the humans of Tarl Cabot’s home world, Earth, in this way.
“And they put economic gain above all. Their greed and their fevered scratching repulses me.”
Page 368 Beasts of Gor
It is interesting to note that Tarl responds to this by asking the Kur what he would “put above all else.” The Kur responds, “Glory.”
I suppose that an argument could be made that “Glory” is not a spiritual value, but the Kur is the animal side and not the rational side anyway.
However, the idea of greed and fevered scratching is shown in more detail in Outlaws of Gor while Tarl is locked up in the Silver Mines of Tharna.
I am not sure how you can find a more symbolism loaded passage in the books. As a fan of symbolism, I almost over dosed on this one.
Tarl is locked up in an underground mine, by dominating women, who wear masks, and he and his fellow prisoners are fed slops in a trough like pigs, and when they are given permission to eat, they rush to the trough and try to get as much as they can. Tarl puts a stop to this with a simple word. “No.” He says that even in the mines, they are “men.” and organizes an orderly distribution of the food.
The entire theme of book 8, Hunters of Gor, deals with materialism. After the events of Raiders of Gor, Tarl finds himself in a depression over his loss of honor and his betrayal of his codes, but ends up rich and powerful in the city of Port Kar. He becomes consumed with materialism and self advancement. When he is returning from his adventures in Torvaldsland in Book 9, and a couple of pages after he makes his famous declaration that he is now,finally, Gorean, Tarl says this about his experiences in Hunters of Gor.
“Incredibly, perhaps, the values, wealth and power, which had driven me in the forest, when I had sought Talena, no longer seemed of much interest to me. The sky now seemed more important to me, and the sea, and the ship beneath my feet. No longer did I dream of becoming an Ubar. In the north I found I had changed. What had driven me in the forests seemed now paltry, irrelevant to the true needs, the concerns, of man. I had been blinded by the values of civilization. Everything that I had been taught had been false. I had suspected this when I had stood on the heights of the Torvaldsberg, on a windswept rock, looking upon the lands beneath, white and bleak, and beautiful. Even Kurii, on its height, stunned, had stopped to gaze. I had learned much in the North.”
Page 295 Marauders of Gor
There are many other examples of this stance in the early books. We are not only called to abandon the false values of wealth and power and appreciate the beauty of the world around us, but also we are called to a higher purpose than self interest.
It is my opinion that our Earth society has become overly materialistic and selfish. John Norman was raging against this 40 years ago, and in the ensuing years, it has grown worse and worse. The tendency to put material concerns above spiritual ones is running rampant and that is coupled with a tendency to lessen us and make us conform to a lower standard in the interest of “sameness” disguised as equality.
As Second Life Goreans, we can bring those tendencies to our online world along with our other Earth baggage, and we often do. Within our role play stories, if such is our main interest here, there is nothing wrong with creating selfish and greedy characters. They existed on Gor and so would be “by the books.” In fact, without them as antagonists story lines would be a bit dull.
Yet, if we are to really understand what Gor was supposed to be teaching us, we need to call ourselves to a higher standard as Tarl did. There is nothing wrong with wealth and there is nothing wrong with physical comfort, but if our tendency is to consider such things as the most important values, we are not being true to the spirit of the novels.
I am a bit haunted by the image of a world where men line up to take the slops from the trough, imprisoned by women whose masks cover their true natures. I want to stand firm and say, “NO”, as Tarl did in the mines of Tharna.
I believe we are given the chance to make that stand right here in Second Life Gor, by creating a world that rejects the materialism of Earth and replaces it with something so beautiful and spiritual that even Kurii, stunned,would stop to gaze upon it.