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What is this Gor?

July 15, 2009
Sheraka Sirnah

Sheraka Sirnah

One of the things that I’ve found most entertaining about blogging is that you can see what search terms drive people to your site.   “Eat your own dogfood” and “Mayor McCheese” and “Linden Labs + ass” were all real searches that somehow drove people to my site.   The other week, however, a search that found my site got me thinking: “Free Gorean Avitars” (their spelling, not mine!); I realized that I’ve been in Second Life for nearly two years and other than all of the stereotypical things you hear about kajira and silks and the poor treatment of women, that I actually know very little about Gor.   Being the curious sort, I found myself wondering:  Were the stereotypes accurate?  What is Gor in SL really like?  I knew I probably wasn’t alone in this, so I thought I would try to find someone to interview.

I started by doing a quick search on Google and found Sheraka Sirnah’s blog.  Her blog seemed to indicate that there was more to Gor than I first thought, so we traded IMs in-world and she agreed to be interviewed.  I met with Sheraka in her very lovely home sim.  We ended up having a very long conversation about some of the main concepts of Gor, accurate Gor versus “Disney Gor,”  and the role of women in Gorean society.   Curious to learn more?  Read our conversation after the jump!

Charlanna Beresford:  Hi Sheraka, thanks for taking the time to talk.  So, did you come to SL for Gor?  Or did you find Gor in SL?

Sheraka Sirnah: Of course!  No, I did not come to SL for Gor.  It was actually here that I heard of it the first time.

It was actually quite funny how.  I was on one of those beaches. You know the ones where clothing is optional and every second sentence is “wanna fuck?”  So I was at the beach in swimming costume, sitting at the bar and talking rubbish and one girl caught my attention.   She was wearing leopard style leather briefs along with a bow and a dagger and she looked a bit dirty and wild.  And I talked to her, and she told me about this other world where she lives in a big forest with other women who fled the society of that world.  I felt like I was watching the Discovery channel.  So I decided to try it and went with her to the Northern Forests of Gor as a panther girl.  She bought me my first bow.

Charlanna Beresford: And it just took off from there?

Sheraka Sirnah: Basically yes, but in between I changed my character and storyline, and Sheraka was born.

Charlanna Beresford: So Sheraka wasn’t your first avatar in SL?

Sheraka Sirnah: No.  It wasn’t. To become a woman of high caste is just not plausible with a panther girl background so I created another account.

Charlanna Beresford: Which brings me to my basic ignorance of Gor; I don’t know much other than it is based on a series of novels and that the predominant image is that of rough men and women as sexual slaves.

Sheraka Sirnah: That is actually what most people think. In fact the entire series is about what the author calls the true human nature. That includes that women are by nature submissive and men dominant.  Also, the slave relationships are an analogy to demonstrate that philosophy.  The writer is actually a professor of philosophy who shares a lot of the ideas of Nietzsche, Darwin and Pythagoras.

Charlanna Beresford: Who wrote the books and what is the title of the first one?

Sheraka Sirnah: The author is John Norman; the first one is called “Tarnsmen of Gor.”

Charlanna Beresford: I assume that there is more to what he meant to true human nature than just women being submissive and men dominant?

Sheraka Sirnah: A lot more.  For example, one of the most important concepts a Gorean believes is the Home Stone.  The story around Home Stones and the cult Goreans make around that Stone is Norman’s analogy that true human nature involves a great deal of local patriotism. In the books Goreans would die for their home.

Charlanna Beresford: How does that translate into SL?

Sheraka Sirnah: A Gorean in SL chooses a city to play as a citizen of that city and role plays a Home Stone fanatic.  Unfortunately, not all role players play it like that, as many just don’t read the books and are ignorant to what Gor really is.

Charlanna Beresford: So it is it safe to say there is a range of Gorean RP communities in SL?  Some that strictly adhere to the books while others are only loosely based?

Sheraka Sirnah: Yes, that is correct.  The loosely based we call Disney Gor.   They are solely for the pew pew or sexual entertainment of the players.  Nothing to do with the philosophy or the books at all.

Charlanna Beresford: Do you believe that these communities give people the general perception of  Gor in SL?

Sheraka Sirnah: Yes, I think so; they just take that part of Gor and try to look cool and rough. Possibly weaklings that are not men in RL and found a place where they can be true machos.

Charlanna Beresford: What percentage of Gor RP in SL closely follows the books?  Any guess?

Sheraka Sirnah: I would say less than twenty percent.  You’ll also find that those sims have really great architecture.

Charlanna Beresford: So if someone were really curious to learn more about accurate Gor in SL, how could they find out?

Sheraka Sirnah: The best is just read the books and have a look at this: www.goreanforums.com.

Charlanna Beresford: And then the Gorean forums can help you better select which world to choose in SL?

Sheraka Sirnah: Yes, because there are a lot of very serious roleplayers but in the end its personal preference.

Charlanna Beresford: So for someone coming into Gorean RP, they have tremendous choice on how they want to be?

Sheraka Sirnah: Of course, but most choose wrong in the beginning, like I did.  Hahahaha!  Most  chose not knowing what the roles actually are.  They come uniformed.  I highly recommend that everybody who wants to enter Gor read at least one of the books.   In addition, there are different cultures on Gor described in different books.  So one should read the book that is about the culture you want to enter.

Another basic foundation of Gorean society is the caste system.  It is important to know about the castes before entering Gor.  Each Gorean is born into a caste. His father’s caste, usually.   Goreans believe that your genetic heritage determines what you are.  They believe that a human being can only be fulfilled if he/she lives what and who he/she is.  Anything else is hypocritical and makes people unhappy.

Charlanna Beresford: So Goreans believe our lives are essentially pre-destined?

Sheraka Sirnah: Not our lives, but what we are.  Somebody who is a warrior is warrior because his genetic origins are those of the warriors. He was born into the caste of warriors.   It’s a bit like this: If you are born as a snake you can’t be a bird.  Snakes don’t fly.  Got it?

Charlanna Beresford: Yes.  Can you tell me more about the castes you mentioned?  How many are there total?

Sheraka Sirnah:   The castes are actually divided in low and high castes.  But there are just five high castes; these are the ones that most contribute to Gorean society.   All others are more like guilds or professions.  The five high castes are in order of importance: The Initiates, the spiritual guardians of Gor.   The Scribes, the intellectuals of Gor.  Then there are the Builders, the Physicians, and the Warriors. The remainder are called low castes like the merchants, the peasants, the sailors, the assassins.  As you can see there is a lot more then rough men beating slave girls!

Charlanna Beresford: Yes, I can.  And what about slaves?

Sheraka Sirnah: Yes, another foundation of Gorean culture is the concept of slavery.  The concept of slavery has a purpose; it takes “lower gens” out of the process of evolution.  The survival of the fittest as in Darwin’s theories.  The weak end up serving the strong and do not take part in reproduction as such other then slave breeding.   They get what is called slave wine which prevents pregnancy.  But are used a lot for sexual pleasures.

Charlanna Beresford: So all slaves are women?

Sheraka Sirnah: No, but most.  Sometimes male criminals get sentenced to slavery.

Charlanna Beresford: I’m very curious about the experience of women in Gor.  Maybe it is because there are so many Disney Gor opportunities that sound really nasty to women.  If someone were to ask you, “What is the experience of the average woman in Gor?”  What would you say?

Sheraka Sirnah: The average woman on Gor is a free woman of any caste who is some kind of the energy giving lady behind a real man.  She is a free companion of a true Gorean and having his children.

Charlanna Beresford: And for this free woman, what is her role in Gorean society?

Sheraka Sirnah: Mother and a very respected person.

Charlanna Beresford: I’m trying to also understand what it means for someone like you, a woman of the high caste of Scribes.   I mean, you don’t strike me as terribly submissive.

Sheraka Sirnah: I am not submissive at all!

Sheraka Sirnah laughs

Sheraka Sirnah: There is nothing more respected on Gor then an honorable free woman.  You know, we just respect that we are different.  There is no such thing as being equal. We are not!!!  But we are not inferior either….just different.  An example:  What do you think Gorean men do when a free woman enters a room?

Charlanna Beresford: Stand?

Sheraka Sirnah: Yes.   The reason being is that she is not a slave and managed in a male dominated world to have status.  Goreans appreciate a lot and that is the kind of woman they want as the mother of their offspring.  They make sure to earn the respect of the community and make sure they are not looked at as slavish.  If she was a weak woman she would wear a collar and would be at his feet.

This actually gets me to an important subject: Gorean values.  For a free Gorean person there is nothing more important than HONOR.  Let me give you an example.  There was a situation in one of the books, where a guy spread dishonorable rumors about somebody.   The rumor was that another man had dishonored a free woman.  Well, the guy that the rumors were spread about was talking to an Earthling about the subject and said,  “I will challenge him to death; he thinks I am a coward.”   The earthling answered: “He might kill you.”  The Gorean answered “so it shall be.”  The Earthling said: “You want to risk your live for mere points of honor?”  The Gorean answered: “There are no mere points of honor.”  The most important value was his answer: “There are no mere points of honor.”  And each caste has their own caste codes of honor and conduct.

Charlanna Beresford: Do they differ greatly among castes?

Sheraka Sirnah: Each caste is a bit different.   The Scribes, for example:  number one in their caste code is total integrity of their words.  A scribe prides himself that whatever he says is true.   The most dishonorable thing for a scribe is a lie.  He /she might get expelled from the caste for a simple lie.

Charlanna Beresford: And what would happen to that person?

Sheraka Sirnah: That person becomes an outlaw.  He/she is not welcome anymore in her/his city and must leave or die.  That way the Gorean society reserves only the best to reproduce and form the perfect society.   It is really social-Darwinism.

Charlanna Beresford: Through maintaining honor? And structure? And values?

Sheraka Sirnah: Yes and strong penalties for those who don’t comply.

Now from what I have told you so far, what would you think of a female warrior on Gor?

Charlanna Beresford: I would think she would be very respected but would she be rare?

Sheraka Sirnah: There are no female warriors on Gor.

Charlanna Beresford: Gah!  I almost said that!

Sheraka Sirnah: A Gorean woman feels HONORED when men protect her and the man has the physical strength to do so.  Again a matter of honor.

Charlanna Beresford: Are there any roles that men do not have in Gor?

Sheraka Sirnah: Good question. A man can do whatever on Gor.  There is a saying on Gor: “A man can do as he wishes, until the sword of another shows him his limits”.  Sounds cruel, I know.

Charlanna Beresford: And are there similar sayings for women?

Sheraka Sirnah: Lots. “For a man a woman is a riddle, to which the answer is the collar.”  But I’ll show you the best one.  Read this…

Sheraka leads me to a picture on the wall with the following quote:

“But remember, he said, smiling, “it is slaves who are assessed and have their prices.  Free women are priceless.”

Sheraka Sirnah: Got the message?

Charlanna Beresford: Yes…but let me use you as an example.  You are free and have earned high-esteem in the community.  Let’s say some man of an appropriate caste begins courting you because he is looking for someone to be the mother of his children.   What happens to your freedom then?

Sheraka Sirnah: Then we would engage to what is called a free companionship.  Similar to marriage on Earth.  I would still be the same free woman.  That is where the difference is.  Free women are thought to be companions, slaves for pleasure.  But if you talk about the same subject to a slave girl, she would answer only a slave is truly free.

Charlanna Beresford: And why is that?

Sheraka Sirnah: Because they live their sexuality as a submissive woman to the fullest. No shame, no honor, no nothing.  Just the wild sensual no committing fuck.

Charlanna Beresford: But how is that truly free?  They don’t get to decide who they are with, do they?

Sheraka Sirnah: No, but they have no commitments other their femininity.  No one judges them.

Charlanna Beresford: So it is complete freedom with their sensuality and sexuality?

Sheraka Sirnah: That’s what they think.  They’re slaves, what would you expect?

Charlanna Beresford: Just a couple of quick last questions if you don’t mind.

Sheraka Sirnah: Yes, of course.

Charlanna Beresford: Has being involved with Gor in SL had any effect on your RL?

Sheraka Sirnah: Yes.  More and more, I get into the philosophy of it and apply it to real life decisions.  I start thinking of what I am really, and who I am, and I start applying the principles of honor and integrity in my RL.   I have always been honorable and honest but it became so much more important since I’ve done Gor.   I also judge people differently.   I divide the world in strong honorable people and…slaves.  Weird?

Charlanna Beresford: I don’t know enough about the books to say one way or another.  How slaves are really defined in the books.  That must be interesting at times, though.  What would you most want the average non-Gorean SLer to know after reading our conversation?  Both about Sheraka and Gor?

Sheraka Sirnah: Maybe one thing.   Gor is a roleplay environment that is based on a philosophy and I wish that everybody entering Gor would take it as what it is and take it seriously.  Or at least respect that there are people who do indeed take it seriously.   It’s not WoW or Counterstrike and if you come to change it because you are in disagreement with our morals or ethics or beliefs…then just stay away.

Charlanna Beresford: Does that happen often?

Sheraka Sirnah: Very often yes, there are some that come to tell us what perverts we are and then leave.  But there is also those who believe in “evolved Gor.”   Evolved Gor is a bunch of people who like the idea of chasing slave girls around, fight with others and ignore the fundamentals of what Gor is all about.   They argue that Gor has evolved.  Bullocks!

Charlanna Beresford: Evolved into?

Sheraka Sirnah: Into their vision of what Gor SHOULD be in their clueless opinion.  They do not even read a book.

Charlanna Beresford: Thank you so much for your time  and candor.  I know that I came to our conversation with some preconceived notions, but I was very interested to learn more.

Sheraka Sirnah: Did I change your perception of Gor?

Charlanna Beresford: In some ways yes, in some no. There is more self-determination and choice and opportunity than I expected.  But the part that I don’t know — and would need to see to understand — is that the difference between men and women in Gor results in respect that would make me feel comfortable.   I’m not saying that it is bad, I’m simply not certain if I would enjoy it.

Sheraka Sirnah: That’s what most women say until experiencing it.  I think you need to read one of the books; they are available here on scrolls.

Charlanna Beresford: I’ve got the first one and will have a look at it.   Well, thank you again.

Sheraka Sirnah: My pleasure!

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24 comments

  1. We actually didnt touch the subject outlaws. Here a video about the typical female outlaw of Gor:

    http://www.machinima.com/film/view&id=22652

    Sheraka


  2. One point that I would like to emphasize is that MANY in SL Gor have very different interpretations of what is and is not authentically Gorean and true to the books. Gor was as planet with just as many unique personalities and perspectives as Earth. Not everyone was a hero/heroine. Not everyone had obvious biases.

    Sheraka, very appropriately for the Free Woman role she has chosen to portray in SL Gor, seems to have a very strong and negative opinion about slaves. This was not uncommon in Gorean society for one of her station. But it should be noted that Free Women were also believed to hold this point of view because they were viciously jealous of slaves.

    In the books, only about 4% of the population was enslaved (give or take depending on location and market conditions). The majority were simple work slaves, but others were highly prized as one’s most valuable and cherished possessions that were admired for their beauty and talents, and NONE were typically considered “weak” by most observers.

    As I noted before, Gor is a world that is as diverse and complex as Earth, so I would caution anyone from over-simplifying Gorean society into stereo-types that actually tend to be the minority of the community as a whole.

    If you care to see more from my own perspective, I have written a lot on the topic of the dynamics between men and women in male dominated relationships in my online journal here: http://bellasloane.wordpress.com/


  3. I would also recommend reading this particular thread at the Gorean Forums: http://www.goreanforums.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=7976

    It is just one of many that have only just touched upon the topic of the strength and intelligence of slaves.


  4. To expound on Bella’s point. The other thing to keep in mind, being a slave DOES NOT mean you are Submissive. That concept is more of a BDSM thought. Slaves on Gor, unless born a slave, were forced into it. (You don’t have to be submissive to be a slave.)Not only that, but in some ways a slave is more free than a free woman for she’s allowed to BE a woman. She’s not restricted to hide her feelings for the man she loves.

    I tend to equate slaves to Venetian Courtesans. These were educated woman, who knew what was going on in the city, they were free to express their thoughts and opinions. They were beautiful, smart, the total package. Just restricted by who they were.

    Some might as … why would the Gorean man choose to spend his company with a slave over a free woman … simple, he doesn’t want a slut bearing his children.

    Both roles for women truly have pros and cons. It’s determining what role challenges you more.


  5. I am a Gorean male, and although I do believe she is right in many ways, I take a slightly different opinion on things.

    Still though it’s well done piece and I look forward to visting your blog in the future.


  6. Thanks for all of the interesting comments. One thing I learned from the interview, is that there are many views and perspectives on Gorean society. I was interested to see that my conversation with Sheraka got a conversation going on the Gorean Forums on what appears to be a well-debated topic, free women versus slaves. http://www.goreanforums.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=7985

    There is only so much that can be covered in one interview. I would have liked to have talked more about RP in SL. Another conversation with another person, I suppose. 🙂


  7. First, thank you for seeking out a Gorean to understand the RP and the culture found in SL. It’s nice to have some proactively open their mind beyond the false rumors that have floated about. Sherakh did a good job of trying to educate and share with you, and for that all of us grateful. But coming from the background I have, there are two POVs that need to be kept when doing such interviews (i.e. with those outside of Gor). One being that of the character, in her case the FW. The other being that of the RPer, which broadens the education about Gor as a whole and doesn’t slant it to the character viewpoint.

    From an RPer standpoint. Gor is based on the novels of John Norman, who uses his visual analogies to showcase the dynamics of the male and female. Call it Old World, Call it Roman, Medieval, Nomadic, even call it Romantic. From an outside perspective, who has no taste of what Gor is, it can seem harsh, cruel and without an open mind oppressive. And this is why education is key.

    Gorean life is built around three pillars: the Homestone, the caste system and slavery.

    To start, and to continue speaking from the RPer perspective is the Homestone. It’s the central representation of a Gorean’s life. It’s honor, it’s pride. You might be able to attribute it to a family seal/emblem. Or a State flag (if the flag was accepted and endeared by the residents of that state). It’s a focus for the citizens of that city or region to unite together over. A city or large region has its own Homestone, a good story throughout the books is that of Koroba, the city where the main character Tarl was first brought to, and sought to see stand again. All Free persons can pledge to the Homestone.

    Consider again the analogy of the circle. For the Gorean the Home Stone which, so to speak, determines the circle. There can be a point without a circle; but there can be no circle without its central point. But let me not try to speak of Home Stones. If you have a Home Stone, I need not speak. If you do not have a Home Stone, how could you understand what I might say? Explorers of Gor, pg 144

    “It is not a word, or a sentence. It does not really translate. It is too important, too precious, to mean. It just is.” Magicians of Gor, page 485

    “The sharing of a Home Stone is no light thing in a Gorean city.” Slave Girl of Gor, page 394
    One who speaks of Home Stones should stand for matters of honor are involved. Tarnsman of Gor page 27

    The second if the caste system. Now when I first started delving into Gor I equated the caste system to that of the Hindu. The caste system isn’t that dynamic, but there is the High Caste, that you can consider well educated. The low caste is that of the workers, or blue collared (and no pun intended). It’s what makes up Gorean society. How it helps the Gorean world stay together. Commerce in a sense.

    I have little doubt but what the caste structure contributes considerably to the stability of the Gorean society. Among other things, it reduces competitive chaos, social and economic, and prevents the draining of intelligence and ambition into a small number of envied, prestigious occupations. If one may judge by the outcome of Kaissa tournaments, amateur tournaments as opposed to those in which members of the caste of Players participate, there are brilliant men in most castes. Explorers of Gor page 209

    “Many castes, incidentally, have branches and divisions. Lawyers and Scholars, for example, and Record Keepers, Teachers, Clerks, Historians and Accountants are all Scribes.” Assassin of Gor, page 208

    The final pillar, and one that most outsiders have issues with is slavery. This is where I will mix a bit of RPer perspective with Character role. A slave is property. She is at the will of her owner. She is expected to hide nothing, to be graceful, obedient and serve. What she is not is a toy with no brain, thought of feelings. A slave or “kajira” are some of the most dynamic and colorful characters you’ll encounter in Gor. They are prized, sought after, and fought over.
    But not all slaves are submissive. Not all slaves will easily say, “yes, Master.” Or serve willingly. We are still human, still have emotions (and abundantly so). We are prideful, we have honor: to ourselves, and to our owner. We are funny, we are wild, and can be openly and purely sexual. To disagree with Sherakh, we have shame. Watch a kajira do something displeasing and how she reacts having her Master find out or having to tell him. Pure raw emotion.

    My character was not always a slave. She was a FW of the Green caste. If you ask a lot of people who spent time with me as a FW, they’ll tell you I was the perfect lady. Refined, elegant, reserved, and dutiful to my caste and my homestone. Never one to test the waters of slavery. And one night that changed when my Master decided he wanted me. Saw that as a FW I was missing something, understood that inside I was unhappy, wasn’t growing. I fought his actions every step of the way. And I still hold myself to the same elegance, refinement, I’m just less clothed and allowed more freedom to express myself physically. I have yet to learn to hold my tongue when arguments arise. He expects nothing but honesty from me, he enjoys my thoughts and opinions on things, and requires that I act independent but within the bounds of his rules. I know inside that if I don’t please him, I will be sold.

    ” ‘What are my duties?’ I asked.
    ‘Exquisite beauty and absolute obedience,’ said Sucha.” Slave Girl of Gor page 261

    Slavery is a large institution on Gor. A boon to trade and economic development recognized within as natural on the World of Gor. In a world clearly dominated by strong men, the weaker of the sexes find themselves often enslaved. Though widely frowned upon on Earth, in Gor it is seen through different eyes. It is the sharp contrast to the harshness. It accentuates the rawness complimenting it with its beauty. Gor is a world where flesh is bought, sold, enslaved, owned and eventually mastered. It is a part of the natural order, though slaves are seen as weak, it is a different kind of strength that they must pull from, a strength that shines through acknowledging them to be the kajirae of Gor. They recognize and accept their lot in life, relishing it hungrily. They are property and nothing more, no longer once collared is their fate in their own hands. They live to please as if their very life depended on it, which most often it does. There were male slaves though they were an exception. When cities and villages were raided or looted usually the men were slain and rarely brought into slavery whereas the slave girls were thought to be prize booty. Many an acquisition ship was sent to earth to bring back girls and introduce them into slavery. Careful selection occurred through this process.

    “What is your duty?” asked my master.
    “Absolute obedience,” I replied, in Gorean.
    He held the whip to my lips. I pressed my lips to it, and kissed it. “Absolute obedience,” I said. Slave Girl of Gor page 106

    “Gorean slavery is categorical and absolute. The slave is property, an animal. She is incapable of doing anything to alter, change oraffect her status. She is owned by the master, and owes him all. Shecan be bought and sold. She must serve with perfection.” “Renegades of Gor”, page 386 In the eyes of Goreans, and Gorean law, the slave is an animal. She is not a person, but an animal. She has no name, saving what her master might choose to call her. She is without caste. She is without citizenship. She is simply an object, to be bartered, or bought or sold. She is simply an article of property, completely, nothing more. Hunters of Gor page 148

    And I think this is where people begin to freak out from the outside. From an RPer standpoint, the person behind the screen accepts or declines where their character is going. No one is forced on an OOC level to do something they don’t want to. And if someone tries to do that you, there is the TP button or the log out button. But as an RPer, who is portraying a character, there is a mutual agreement that the character you play has consequences for their actions. And it’s honorable to understand and play out those consequences.

    In my own transformation I accepted the chain luck RP my Master instigated. Did I think it would last this long, not really. In my characters mind, she’s adjusting and has found something in herself she enjoys. From the RPer standpoint, it’s wonderful to push myself in that direction, to test my limits and see how committed I can be, all the while still holding the dynamics of my character together.

    Yes we RP beatings and whippings. Yes we RP sexual scenes. We also RP intelligent conversations, thought-provoking discoveries and so much more.
    Gor isn’t about some big bad man trying to own every woman and make her feel degraded. Sure, there are men out there who try, but they are not Gorean. They are assholes. Yes, there are women out there who want to be the puddly, please beat me over and over. They are not Gorean, they are a fetish seeker. Yes, there are FW out there who want to start a Feminist movement in Gor because slavery is wrong. They are not Gorean, they are uneducated biased women with men issues. Gor wasn’t just slavery. It is about Caste, and Homestone. It is about adventure, creativity, and honor. It is so much more than a man standing over a woman. Rather, it’s a man knowing how to enhance a woman on her knees or in Robes.

    As my Master puts it:

    “It must be understood and stressed that the Gorean tradition is a cultural continuum, a way of thinking and imagining the world. It has to do with language, symbolism and action, not with genes or physical ability. Anyone who will freely and wholeheartedly embrace it can become a part of it.”
    And finally, this applies to all Goreans, and non Gorean:

    “Honor is a gift a man gives himself”

    I wish you well.
    Mattie

    Wagon girl of the Tuchuk, Gorean Rocker of Socks, Tuchuk Trailer Park Trash Latte


  8. Thank you for the thoughtful comments on my blog. I am glad to hear more about multiple perspectives on Gor. I think your point of distinction between Gor and RP is a very important one that I wish I had explored more with Sheraka.

    I’m glad that you were able to see that the desire to speak with a Gorean RPer was driven by an interest to learn. The challenge with interviewing an individual is that it is undoubtedly from a single perspective. Having great comments that enrich the context of the interview is exceptionally helpful.

    Thanks again!


  9. obviously SCD ran out of things to rant about and copied your idea here http://shoppingcartdisco.com/?p=2988

    at least you did yours in a respectful manner

    i salute you


  10. Wow, great article! I’ve only been familiar with the “Disney” versions of Gor until now. Very, very interesting.


  11. That was a nicely balanced interview Lanna, and it was enjoyable and informative to read.

    I do find it a little disturbing though when people quote from the books in exactly the same way as if they were quoting from the bible. I wonder if there involvement might be a little “too deep”.


  12. very nice and well written piece. a good read in the middle of a slow workday.

    thanks


  13. @Ayla…thank you!

    @Faerie…interesting observation! What I think I’ve learned most from this experience is that there is a huge range of experiences and perspectives on Gor in SL. Some are casual while others appear very deeply involved indeed!

    @Rouge…I’m very glad you enjoyed it!


  14. Yay for real life Goreans:

    But to be serious, interesting interview. I find myself agreeing partly with the philosophy at least, but I can’t say I feel any more interested in participating in Gor now than before.


  15. It’s a little difficult to know how to begin commenting on this interview — not to mention some of the attached comments. There is so much here that I find unfathomable and horrific, that only a line by line critique and refutation of the facile and fatuous ideas propagated here would really suffice.

    I could, for example, devote a great deal of time to expounding upon how utterly reactionary this “philosophy” (please note the use of air quotes) is: it is almost unbelievably classist, misogynist, and, frankly and quite openly fascist. The Dark Ages had a more liberal notion of caste and gender than that which you propose here.

    I could discuss the use of here of completely out-dated and discredited theories of human nature and society, such as Social Darwinism (a theory, incidentally, rejected by Darwin himself). I might make much of the degree to which this “culture” relies exclusively on a cartoonish notion of machismo in its reliance upon “honour” and “strength” as social mechanisms. There is a great deal more Arnold Schwarzenegger at the heart of this “philosophy” than there is Nietzsche.

    Most importantly, however, I could discuss the way in which the violent misogyny that overlays EVERYTHING about this “culture” really functions as a deliberate polemical attempt to subvert, not merely decades, but centuries worth of work attempting to make society acknowledge the equality and contributions of women.

    I quite agree with Sheraka and some of those commenting here on one thing: Gor is much much more than a “game,” or a puerile (and very poorly written) work of fantasy fiction. It is a vile reactionary attempt to “turn back the clock” to an era that, in fact, never existed. The best fantasies endeavour to imagine a humanity working to transcended violence and injustice. This one enshrines brutality, slavery, and inequality as foundation stones for the worse kind of dystopia conceivable.

    And it is this absurd projection of a third-rate fiction on to the real world that most horrifies me most about Sheraka’s comments:

    “More and more, I get into the philosophy of it and apply it to real life decisions. I start thinking of what I am really, and who I am, and I start applying the principles of honor and integrity in my RL. I have always been honorable and honest but it became so much more important since I’ve done Gor. I also judge people differently. I divide the world in strong honorable people and…slaves. Weird?”

    Yes, Sheraka, I’m sorry, but it is “Weird.” Weird that you seem to be incapable of distinguishing between reality and fantasy. Weird that when you look at the real world, you now see “strong honorable people” and “slaves,” instead of fellow human beings, each struggling in her or his own way to become something better. Weird, and appalling, that you seem to want to apply Gor as a nightmarish paradigm for human society. And weird, finally, that you so willing accept your role as victim, and so willing, indeed eager, to facilitate the victimization and enslavement of others of your gender as well.

    I can accept, to some limited degree, the necessity of fantasy, and the usefulness of SL as a place to play out aspects of your personality that you can’t express in RL. What I cannot accept is the kind of distorted mindset that would want to apply this kind of twisted and deeply dangerous model to the real world. You have chosen to be a victim, Sheraka. I am very sorry for it, but that is your choice. But you’ll have to excuse the rest of us if we choose to reject the facile brutality of your delusion.


  16. Indeed, a very interesting and thought-provoking interview. I’m currently hosting “On The Grid,” a weekly Internet radio program dealing with Second Life on the GameScribe Radio Network, and I’d like to use this as source material for a feature story on the Gorean culture in SL on next Thursday night’s program. Of course, the show blog at onthegrid.mygamescribe.com would have a link back here, which I would explicitly mention on air. Do you have any objections to this? Feel free to contact me privately if necessary.


  17. I wonder who or what Sheraka is behind the veil? The lack of evolution in the ‘true’ philosophies is shocking and if it weren’t so vile it would be laughable. I find it extremely hard to believe a woman in today’s ‘real’ world ( the one that actually does exist for everyone)would buy into this cruel fantasy. My friend (male) made a very good point, ” It is some single white male most likely living alone reading books about fictional powerful people and living on hotpockets and Mountain Dew.”

    This statement “But if you talk about the same subject to a slave girl, she would answer only a slave is truly free.” And this, “The concept of slavery has a purpose; it takes “lower gens” out of the process of evolution. The survival of the fittest as in Darwin’s theories. ”

    The concept of slavery certainly has a purpose but it has NOTHING to do with Darwinism. The process of natural selection or Darwinism does not include selective sterilization. Drinking wine to prevent a pregnancy from the result of preforming sexual ‘duties’ is not natural. It’s not even legal in the real world in most modern countries.

    What is obvious is nearly everyone in Gor has drunk the same Kool-Aid and they keep a pitcher in the fridge for anyone who might stop by.

    I fully expect submitting this will bring on the in world harassment from those Gor men who know me. I’ve had more than one confrontation with Gorean men. Rather than respect for my freedom, they seemed to resent it immensely. I have to say I do know two people who RP Gor and must not have had the Kool-Aid because they do realize it is RP, not real, and that is refreshing.

    I could go on and on and dissect every comment but will have to let it suffice with what I have said.


  18. One thing seems certain, conversations about Gor elicit strong reactions (even from Goreans). Thank you all for taking the time for such rich and thoughtful comments; hearing people’s reactions to the interview has painted a full and interesting picture of Gor in SL. Part of my hope with this blog is to bring up a variety of issues in SL in ways that will help people look deeper. If you’ve read through the comments and gotten to this point, if you’re anything like me, you’ve gotten lots of grist for the mill.


  19. […] can become political (see, e.g., Gorean communities), but it isn’t, inherently. It doesn’t ordinarily structure social relations, let alone […]


  20. Gorean culture is about as far from natural selection as one might imagine. The priest-kings use their advanced technology to breed and create the conditions on Gor that produce the type of society they desire. If anything Gor is like a human zoo. It’s a kind of eco-experiment controlled not by natural selection but by the constant external adjustment of powerful beings.

    There is some fault in Gor as it leans to identify the Master and Slave on gender lines, which is understandable considering the long history of associating Solar-male-power-yang together and then lunar-female-passive/yin together. The basic alchemical symbols, the hermetic tree of life and the yin-yang of taoism all relate the same idea than Power is created in the Phallus and the sun and the yoni like the moon is powerless on her own save the gift from the sun-phallus. So it is understandable that Mr. Norman simply continued in this system.

    However with the dawn of the new aeon formula, the phallus or source of power is no longer the Male Penis, but the is instead the inner spark found in men and women, but expressed differently. It is the sexual drive and the WILL or ambition to act itself. It is true than non-shall be cast down nor lifted up, the kings shall be kings the slaves shall serve. And as a King can choose his clothes as he will and go unnoticed an slave on the throne is obvious to everyone (to paraphrase the law).

    Which is to say the outward garments may be the flesh of a woman, and still hold the inner light and power. Likewise the slave and submissive lunar element may wear the male disguise and still be unfit to rule.

    The liberal might say, well if any one or any class or gender might be a worthy king with inner power, we better be sensitive and treat everyone we meet with respect, and be humble and nice to everyone. But the new law makes clear that this is foolish, it makes slaves of us all makes as soft and weak. Instead don’t hold back treat everyone harshly and strike hard and with low blows, cut them down to the quick. If they are weak they fail the test, they fall to their knees and beg forgiveness and for mercy, the are slaves and shall serve. If, however, they are strong and powerful. You find worthy opponent, they meet you back with skill, strength and wittiness. Then having tested each other you have met an equal, and it is only amongst the masters, the kings of the earth, can the truly free-men and women find true companions.

    I feel than the True expression of Gor is not divided on gender lines as much as on Kingly values and Slave Values. A sentiment I believe Nietzsche would have accepted as well, despite his several remarks against the women of his time.


  21. Oh, I miss Gor. This is my first “contact” to the world of Gor after MSN was closed or after my character died.

    http://arabutonako.wordpress.com/2008/11/21/recycled-thoughts-5/


  22. The biggest mistake I see people who conduct interviews about SL Gor make is to interview BtB people when there are more players in Gor Evolved and it is a lot more fun and friendly to non-Goreans in terms of sexual egalitarianism.

    I play in the much-maligned Gor Evolved. Gor Evolved is actually much more true to the spirit of the Gor novels. Why? Because as the Gor novels say, a man’s deepest self-expression is in the owning and use of women, and in fighting. These are the things that men love most, in Gorean philosophy, and this is what Gor Evolved is all about.

    What the By-the-Book (BtB) Goreans will not tell you is that fighting rarely occurs in BtB Gorean sims. A warrior in BtB Gor can go weeks or even months without any real fighting, which is why they have so many mock fights and spars. The men of BtB Gor are weak and soft and, not suprisingly, kind of rare. There is a real shortage of male players in BtB Gor because … get this … male players like to fight. So they go to Gor Evolved where the fighting is frequent, and … horrors! … women can be warriors, too!

    As a result, BtB sims have had to ban Gor Evolved players because as a rule we can roll right over them … they are few in number, and weak.

    Gor Evolved is more egalitarian than BtB Gor … most outlaw bands are led by female warriors. As a male warrior that does not bother me, so long as I get to fight and fur slaves to my heart’s content. The female warriors like to fight and fur their male slaves, which there are a lot more of in Gor Evolved, and that’s all right with me. We are all here to have fun, after all.


  23. Thanks for all the thoughtful comments. There is no question that it is difficult to fit Gor in SL into a neat little box that describes everything.



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