The Problem with SL Gor.
The problem with SL Gor is that it assumes and translates the books to be static, without realising that Gor only works in dynamic space! It is often forgotten that even by strict storyline in most of the Gor books, Tarl Cabot (the Gorean archetype – or the representation of everything that is Gor) is beckoned to Gor, and he returns (seemingly once every 1000 Gorean years) for one reason alone – TO CREATE A REVOLUTION!
That is; nearly each story in the book is about how Gor had become stagnant and is forgetting the meaning of what it is to be Gorean when Tarl Cabot returns to revitalise them, revolutionise them, and get them to remember their honor. Each story was about returning the HONOR to Gor.
People who roleplay Gor forget this. They forget the dynamic nature of it – they take every rule spoken by a Gorean in the book to be an unwavering code. Firstly, that is a fallacy. There are several rules within Gor that Tarl fights against because he feels it is against everything that is Gor! A little insight is required if one is to take the essence of Gor and apply it into their own lives. One needs to understand the nature of Tarl Cabot.
Tarl Cabot even questioned the Priest Kings, the prolific “Gods” that oversaw the land – the very beings that were thought to bring him in to Gor, his adherance to honor was so very intact that even when a Priest King stepped out of line, Tarl fought for what is right – creating an entire transformation. Tarl Cabot’s Gor was never about the rules! In applying these Gorean situations to roleplay, one must understand that honor is paramount. One must be illuminating in transforming Gor into RP.
But humans for the most part, and in general, don’t like to do that – they would rather be literal, unthinking, and create a mass of bricks and walls to represent what Gor is to them. It becomes more about the look of it, the sake of appearances, rather than the HEART of it. The heart gets lipservice, nothing more.
And that, is why SL Gor does not work for most folks. Oh, they may insist that it does, but I have seen its functionality, studied the history of it for several years – when they insist that it does work, it is merely a lie they tell themselves.
You may say that most cities in SL Gor are disney (they do not stick to the books). I have seen the birth of so many SL Gor cities, as well as their imminent demise. And each time a city was born, its creators swore that this would be the first City true to Gor. And each time, unflinchingly, they would make the same mistakes as their predecessors. It becomes obvious after repeated error that sticking to the surface of a book is not the solution. As a result, the creators of the city start to bend their own rules, only to be accused of being disney. The problem is, rules should not have been the core of their philosophy to begin with.
Only a few Masters did I meet who knew the truth of what I speak – and they were able to make Gor a fulfilling experience, and are perhaps evolving still today, taking the essence of Gor to new heights – understanding fully that the book is a stepping stone – an insight into the state of mind. It is not a book of laws – it is a book of revolutions.
Make no mistake, nowhere here do I mention that one should make things up, that one should fabricate according to their every whim an idea of Gor that has nothing to do with Gor itself! I am saying – REMEMBER THE ESSENCE! Apply it! Do not make it a bunch of laws! It will not work. Because it will not be adaptive to every situation – it will be stagnant, unyielding, and ultimately, unenlightening.
Yes, there are laws, but they are secondary! First, there is honor! And honor cannot be a law! There must be honor among men of steel, and honor within the heart of the kajira. This sort of honor is kindled. You can’t write a law that all men should be honorable and expect to validate it! That’s why SL Gor does not work. Steps must be taken to create an environment that encourages and enthuses honor among the society. Then, it is Gorean. Otherwise, it is a piece of dung not worthy of even being called Disney.
People are too concerned with appearances – on how things are named and called, when it is actually meaningless to one’s transformative experience of Gor. It is foolishness. Gor evolves! One must understand this. The books clearly reveal it! You need to be aware that in applying Gor to a lifestyle (something John Norman clearly never intended), a few questions need to be asked about functionality. It is the obvious and rational step to take.
But questions of functionality are not being asked! Rulers or creators of a City are not discussing and pondering from their past mistakes exactly which part of John Norman’s Gor can be translated into a lifestyle, and exactly which part needs some holes filled in, so that one can stay true to the essence of Gor. Instead we have slaves quoting books! Utterly ridiculous!
If we are to have rules, then first rule is that the slave who ventures to quote a book shall have her throat slit. For nothing is less Gorean! Goreans do not interest themselves in the thinking of slaves! And that is another reason why SL Gor does not work. A Gorean does not bargain with slaves – yet SL Gor is full of this bargaining, happening each and every second.
But mostly, SL Gor does not work because the slavegirl is a modern day human woman sitting behind the safety of a computer screen treating Gor as – fantasy roleplay. In most cases, this would be the accurate situation; The slavegirl actually does not fear the imminence of death that exists on Gor – it is just words on the screen!
AND FOR THIS REASON YOU CANNOT DIRECTLY TRANSLATE THE BOOKS! Because you are dealing with humans roleplaying Goreans! Not Goreans being Goreans. So, you must adapt – to intergrate the one facet that wasn’t in the books – a city full of humans feigning Goreanism. For this reason, it becomes imperative to inspire honor in the roleplayers – to take them through scenarios, to reward it. Only in that way can we kindle human RPers to get into the Gorean mind. That may be the only solution to making Gor work as a lifestyle or a roleplay.
An inspired response to this post here.
Afterthought: In the last months of my time in Gor I was intensely discussing with a few respectable Masters about the necessity to train, or educate what it is to be a Master. The issue that came up is that firstly, Rpers would be too shy or too proud to attend a class which comprises of a lecture. Men sitting around listening to a man telling them how to behave like a Master would not go down well.
My function and focus in Gor was in training slaves, because I felt that the slaver was the backbone of Gorean society (irrespective of rank or his caste position, he was still the crux on which a city could thrive). The quality of the slaves reflects the quality of the Masters.
One of the first dilemmas to resolve in such training was that organizing classes where a teacher imparts instruction and reads out scrolls, cuts and pastes information was entirely not the way to go about it. Although, I suspect, even now that is how many slave classes are being held.
The education needs to be organic, dynamic – it needed to be a scenario-based training. The slave would be placed in enacted dramatic situations where trainers who took specific roles in the scenario would react to her actions. She would learn by experience what the essence of a slave is through such scenario. Most of all, because of the high level of engagement, it would be an exciting way to learn.
To take it a step further, there is no reason why enacting similar scenarios that cater to Mastership training won’t work! One such scenario that was developed was to place a Master-in-training in a situation where a slave was retaliating and refuses to submit. Everyone engaged in this situation would be aware of the final “goal”, or realization that the trainee must be guided towards, and they would play their part until the trainee discovers how to Master the slave. He finds his way, he discovers! It would be entirely an experiential method of teaching Gor.
It would work because most people come to SL Gor to become “involved”. Not to read scrolls or attend lectures. Gor in itself is about involvement. Tarl Cabot’s training was experiential. I do hope SL Gor evolves into scenario-based training for people who want to understand what Gor is.
Anyone can feel free to contact me if they wish to further discuss scenario-based training for SL Gor.