Gorean Philosophy Class Lecture (6.11.15)
Ok, we will get started. This is the 2nd class in a series of 10 classes focused on the first 25 Gorean novels. This is the second one speaking of the first 13 novels, with the exception of book 7 and 11 which go in the slave book group. Our format is that I will give a short talk on the topic, and then we will open up the floor to questions and discussion. so, please hold your comments and questions until I finish. Picks up his notes.
Tal and greetings
Last week, when we began our discussion of the early books in the Gorean series, I referred to them as a maze. This was not quite accurate. Rather than think of them as presenting a maze, there are actually three or four clear cut progressions. You might refer to them as growth progressions, or even maturation progressions.
The first and major progression follows Tarl Cabot himself as he arrives on Gor and gradually goes through a process that converts him from a man of Earth to a man of Gor. In Tribesmen of Gor, the final book of this group, he muses on this journey and uses the term romantic idealism to describe himself in his early days on Gor. This is a pretty good way to put it, too. He is the typical hero of fantasy. He performs great feats, and is very consistent in his heroic behavior. He overcomes great obstacles and seems to always to be in the typical helpless and doomed situations of fantasy, and yet, like a sort of Gorean Indiana Jones, he manages to save himself, the girl, and all of Gor at the very last moment. His quests involve great battles involving the whole planet, and he consistently does things no man has ever done before from saving Ar from Pa-Kur in Tarnsman of Gor to saving the Priest Kings in the book of that name and in Nomads.
In every book, he is involved in mighty struggles with planetary implications like a typical fantasy hero. He does have a personal journey of disillusionment and subsequent redemption, but the scope of his adventures never seems to lessen with the exception of Hunters of Gor, book 8, where his adventures, exciting and heroic as they are, involve a much smaller scale. I think of this journey as a maturation process as he goes from an almost naive youthful idealism to a personal low point where he has lost his honor and his self respect due to his submission to slavery in Raiders of Gor. Hunters of Gor, the one book in this group where he is not saving the whole planet is a result of a more selfish and much less idealistic self image.
Although I have stated many times that the Gor novels are not meant as guides for Gorean role play in Second Life Gor, this journey has an uncanny resemblance to the journey of many new Gorean role players here, and indeed even seems to predict the flow of Second Life Gorean role play over the last ten years. The high adventure of raids and captures represents the early idealistic Tarl and in the early days of SL, and indeed, online Gor itself, we saw almost every male as a Warrior with very few people showing any interest in any other caste.
At the present time, there are certainly as many scribes, Greens, merchants and even lower castes as there are warriors in many of the more settled sims. At the same time, his attitude on females, submission, and slavery change as well. Elizabeth Cardwell is a good example. Her submission and slavery as depicted in Nomads of Gor is almost silly and romantic as compared with later novels. When you read their interaction it is almost as if she is going ooc in ims at times as she becomes playful and teasing, behaviors not seen in kajira even a few books later. After she shares Tarl’s high adventure in Assassin of Gor, Tarl decides to send her back to Earth for her own safety, but she will not go. She runs away and falls into a much more serious slavery as a paga slave in a small tavern in the North. One might view this as a symbolic representation of the concept of consensual slavery and submission held by many more serious online Goreans. Whereas the new girls, with this is just a fun and romantic game pick in their profiles represent the early Elizabeth Cardwell, they eventually face a consensual decision, as did she, to move to a higher and more serious level of involvement in Gor.
The attitude of Tarl toward Free Woman is another example of this progression. Most Free Woman are going to be pretty pleased with his early attitude, and most of the quotes you will find on their picks come from these earlier novels. One might argue that his feelings toward Free Women are strongly influenced by his Earth conditioning, and his respect and even admiration of them is more a result of that than a true reflection of how they are viewed by native born Goreans.
The fourth major progression involves the Kur. The struggle between the Priest Kings and the Kur for control of Gor and Earth is a symbolic representation of the struggle inside each human between his animal nature and his rational spiritual nature. The very method in which we are introduced to the Kur seems to represent growth and maturity in understanding this critical fact about our dual nature. In Nomads, they are the mysterious others. We do not even get a clear look at one until book seven, and it is not until Book 12 that Tarl recognizes the connection between them and humans. I have always thought the title Beasts of Gor does not refer to all the animals depicted in the book, or even to the Kur alone, but to the fact that humans are rational beasts as well. I will speak more of this symbolic element of the novels in a later class in this series.
The point is that the first group of books is not only painting a picture of and fleshing out the details of Counter Earth, but it is also taking us through several progressions as if preparing us for the much more serious and difficult philosophical messages to come. It has always seemed to me that the books are presenting this philosophy in the same way students learn math. They learn basic arithmetic, which sets the stage for more complex math, which paves the way for classes in Algebra or Calculus. The first 13 novels start off with simple numbers, and have reached the advanced math stage by Explorers of Gor. I do not know if the author of novels outlined this whole series in advance. Certain elements of the series would indicate that he did not, but in the end, his intentions are not important. Perhaps, he changed and matured in his thinking in the years that the novels were written, and since he clearly was speaking on current social issues, the turbulent social changes of the 60s, 70s and early 80s most likely had much to do with the progressions in the early novels.
Regardless of his intentions, a careful study of the first 13 novels will show the changes clearly. The problem with this is that we are seeing Gor through the words of Tarl Cabot. His own romantic idealism and unrealistic immaturity makes its way into the Gorean World he describes:
As he grows, so does Gor. As he changes, so does Gor.
- “The men of Gor,” she said, “are strong. They are not weak and divided against themselves. They are not tortured. They are integrated and coherent, and proud. They see themselves in the order of nature. They see females as females, as slaves, and themselves as men, as masters. If we do not please them they punish us, or slay us. We quickly learn our place in the order of things. Only where there are true men can there be true women.”
Rogue of Gor
When someone tells me they have read only one or two of these books, and learned of Gor from a friend or from a website, I wonder which level of Gor they have learned. They often seem to me to be much like a child walking into a High School algebra class and claiming they already understand everything because their second grade teacher taught them arithmetic, and they saw a website that taught them to count all the way to 20.
I do not want to sound overly pessimistic about all this, however. Despite this, we have built quite a large and diverse and interesting and fun Second Life Gor, but to understand that Gor changed and matured along with Tarl Cabot, and along with Elizabeth Cardwell might help make a bit more sense in what is often rp chaos here. Although this is not really what the GE people mean when they speak of Gor evolved, it is helpful to understand that Gor evolved in the first 13 novels from idealistic to realistic, from childish to mature, and if you read those books in order with that understanding, I think you will get much more out of them.
Puts down his notes, and looks up.