These are some of Master Gorm Runo’s first classes at the Gorean Campus that were recently discovered.
Gorean Philosophy Class Lecture (6/4/15)
I am excited to see you all on this first of our “book” sessions.” During these ten sessions devoted to the books, we are going to use the same format as always,,,a short lecture, followed by open discussion and questions. So, please hold comments until I finish.
Tal and greetings,
Welcome to the first of ten sessions in which we focus on the first 25 Gorean novels. Today, we will be doing part 1 of two parts on 11 books that I refer to as the early novels. These novels are as follows:
#1 Tarnsman of Gor
#2 Outlaw of Gor
#3 Priest Kings of Gor
#4 Nomads of Gor
#5 Assassins of Gor
#6 Raiders of Gor
#8 Hunters of Gor
#9 Marauders of Gor
#10 Tribesmen of Gor
#12 Beasts of Gor
#13 Explorers of Gor
Books numbers 7 and 11 in that sequence belong in the slave girl group which we will talk about in a later session. As I was preparing this class, I considered giving a plot outline of those eleven novels. I wanted to convey a the story line without ruining it for any of you yet to read them. So, I decided that I would tell the story using Second Life as it is a common experience and frame of reference for us all.
A man named Tarl Cabot opens a second life account and finds himself on Noob Island. He bounces around like an idiot for awhile pushing buttons, jumping on pose balls, and building fantastic sims and meeting hot female avatars. But, he has to log off and for awhile forgets his password. After a time, he remembers it, logs back in, and finds his friends list erased and his sim gone. In anger, he seeks out the mysterious Lindens. He meets them and discovers they are actually giant insects, not really gods at all. They only care that we do not blow ourselves up and them with us, but otherwise, do not pay much attention to us. Tarl returns to have adventures, learning more and more. But, he makes a major mistake and becomes bitter, but then has another adventure that gets him involved with earning Lindens, and he becomes a bit of an greedy asshole. Eventually, he matures a bit, goes to Torvaldsland Sims and finally gets it. He then has a couple more adventures where he basically saves the world and gets all the girls. That pretty much sums up the storyline.
I read a message board discussion on a Science Fiction and Fantasy website where these books were discussed by a group of people that were evaluating them by comparing them with the writings of other authors in the Sci Fi genre. They mocked the writing style and shook their heads in disbelief at the idiocy of some of the philosophical ramblings and the offensive nature of the treatment of females.
Lets talk about some historical facts concerning these novels. The first one was published in 1967 and the last one in 1979. In the early days of online Gor, they were available only in used book stores and online via certain websites and on ebay. I had a small online business selling the books on ebay. One of the interesting things about this period is that Tarnsman of Gor was easy to find and sold on ebay for a couple of dollars, while book 25 which was the last book published sold for over one hundred dollars, if I could even get hold of a copy to sell. This being the opposite of most collectibles, for example, where older, first editions, are most valuable. This was because these early books were printed and distributed originally in much greater numbers than the later books. Most readers, like those in that Sci Fi site, turned away from them as the series went on and became more focused on D/s relationships. They claimed that the fictional world was well fleshed out and the plotlines exhausted. It is certainly true that the world was fleshed out.
When we think of our Second Life Gorean world, the majority of what we find in it was introduced in those early books. Almost every sim you find is introduced in these books, as well as a majority of what might be called the trivia of Gor. When we think of Gorean role play in second life, these eleven books are the closest we come to a concise set of guidelines. They are still today, I believe, the books most commonly read. In the early days of online Gor, they were the least expensive and the most easily found.
When we begin the discussion today I want to ask you, if you have read at least one complete novel, to post the very first one you read. I would guess the majority of the first reads would be included in this group. Of course, many new people would prefer reading them in order, which would make sense and account for these books being first reads. So, after these books were written, we had enough to create Second Life Gor and role play happily in it.
Another issue that I might raise was that in the early days of online Gor, there was quite a bit of discussion about copyright. It was one of the biggest debates of all. Many people felt that by putting the novels on websites and making them available was violating copyright laws and hurting the author financially. This argument was tied into similar concerns about pirated music and films on the internet. Of course, the idea that the books were not available from the publishers, and used paperback book vendors did not pay royalties to the authors made this argument moot.
But, many Goreans argued that the philosophy of the novels and the concept of Honor made it wrong to steal the ideas of others, and said that honorable people would use ebay or browse through yardsales to find the books. Second Life Gor, notecards, and the large influx of people into the Gorean world here, as well as the increased connectivity to date…ie Google it, sort of overwhelmed this debate and now the books are easily gotten from multiple sources and those who would want to display real books on their bookcases, almost as decoration or as a lifestyle statement can find all 33 on Amazon.com for roughly the same price.
However, I have to say that, in my opinion, the people who viewed the novels as even belonging in the Sci Fi genre, had missed the boat completely. Like a majority of readers, they had evaluated the books from the wrong point of view. Indeed, a certain amount of political, philosophical, and social commentary is present in almost all Sci Fi. Books like Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” being one example.
However, John Norman was not Heinlein and social commentary was not something that existed inside his sci fi construct, but rather a sci fi construct existed inside his social commentary. John Lange, the real man who used the pen name of John Norman, was a professor of Philosophy with a degrees in history as well. He had ideas and things he thought important to say and he chose to do it via this source. He was surprised by the reception of his books and I am sure enjoyed any financial rewards this mode provided. Although his writing style is almost consistently bashed, even the sci fi critics lauded the depth and color of his fictional world. And the online fueled explosion and popularity of Gor was another surprising, but unavoidable proof that he had not made a mistake to use this way to make his voice heard.
How astonishing is the world-wide Gorean phenomenon! How unexpected, certainly to me, that anything so different, and so remarkable, could occur. It was not suspected, it was not sought, it was not envisioned. These are his own words, taken from the website, www.gorchronicles.com. If these words are to be believed, it would seem that by chance, he accomplished his goals of getting his message out, and perhaps, reaping some financial reward from it. Had he written a book called. “What I think about what is going on in Earth Society” by John Lange, we might have walked by it on the clearance rack at a book store, priced on sale at $1.99, or picked it up at a yard sale for a quarter. And if we read it, we might have thought about it a bit, either accepting or rejecting it without much thought.
By placing the message inside this colorful and addictive world, he did a much better job of getting it out. But, if you are not reading the books to find the message, and you are focusing on the writing style, or not getting the whole “counter Earth” approach to viewing our society, you are going to continue to be disappointed in the books. Although I was trying for humor in my plot outline, it is true that for those of us in Second Life, and especially the new people just discovering our world of Gor, our journey in online Gor is not unlike the journey of Tarl Cabot in those 11 books. And it is often easy for a more experienced online Gorean to pretty much pinpoint just where people are in their personal journey by using these books as mile markers. The vast majority of people are in Tarnsman, awash in trivia and seeking high adventure. They think Gor means kill your enemies and get the girls and they point to that book to justify what they think. Others, thankfully, are in Explorers. They not only better understand the fictional world, but the message is starting to sink in. They might reject it or they might accept it, either in part or whole, but at least they are doing it with a great deal of thought. When you are in the Explorer of Gor stage, you can see things such as the connection between some radical feminist ideas such as “Marriage represents a form of slavery, and in order to free themselves, women must alter or abolish the institution” and the idea that Gor presents the ideal male/female relationship as “slavery”, but with a much more natural dynamic. This is an example of “Counter Earth” thinking.
Close reading of the books shows clearly that the author does not degrade women, nor does he mock even romantic love. Why did he bury his message in these eleven books, and throw out confusing things to block or hinder our understanding of it? Why do we have to defend ourselves from our critics and protect ourselves from predators because he has the Gorean’s holding females in slavery, selling then like cattle and calling them beasts, animals with no rights? If he really didn’t feel that way, why did he make it part of Gor? I am not sure of the answer. Maybe he is a bit of an elitist, and structured his books so that idiots and shallow people would bounce off the walls of the fiction, and only those who broke through them and got to the treasures inside would truly understand the value of the message. He wrote in Marauders words to the effect that he would not be as the men of Earth or the men of Gor. He envied them the simplicity of their beliefs, they were born to them and conditioned in them, and they did not question them. But, he would not be as either of them, he would question, he would dig deep, he would fight through to truths. Truths not fought for that way, he tells us, are not really owned.
So, these books are good for newbies, and they give us pretty much all we need to play a game here in second life. They have given us a basis for a large world wide online community. These were unexpected results. But, inside them is a message, and it is not easy to get to it, and like a maze, there are many wrong turns and dead ends inside them. Next, week, we will look at some more of this maze.