All the Ways of Gor Aren’t Mine

The Gorean Compass is a class given every Thursday by Master Gorm Runo.  Classes are held at the Gorean Campus and are given at noon and 6pm SLT.  All are encouraged to come and join in the amazing discussions. This class was held on March 7, 2019.

Tal and greetings,

I wanted to talk about two slave girls mentioned in the early books today. Their stories support the idea of my premise of “Earth Sucks and Gor Sucks, but for opposite reasons.” In the very first book, Tarnsman of Gor, we are introduced to the slave girl, sana. When we first meet her, she is hooded and strapped to Tarl’s tarn as he is flying to Ar on his mission to steal the Home Stone of Ar.

It appears that sana is from the city of Thentis. She was captured in a raid, and brought to Ko-ro-ba and enslaved. Now she is part of the plot to capture Ar’s Home Stone. Now, here is the plan. The Home Stone of Ar, sitting on a high cylinder of the city is left unguarded for brief moments while the various Heads of Caste make offering to the Priest-Kings asking for their blessings on the Caste’s endeavors for the coming year. The final offering is when the daughter of the Ubar will sprinkle some grain on the Home Stone base to seek a bountiful harvest. For a few moments, she will be alone and unguarded. The plan is that at this exact moment, Tarl will swoop in, kill the Ubar’s daughter, replace her with the slave sana, wrapped in Free Woman robes, and then grab the Home Stone and take off.

The idea is that sana will fool the guards long enough for Tarl to make his escape. The body of the Ubar’s daughter will be dumped in the swamps outside Ar, and Tarl will return to Ko-ro-ba with the Home Stone of Ar. Thus, Ar’s power and prestige will be broken, and their dreams of conquering and uniting Gor into one Empire will be crushed. All and all a good plan, right?

Well, you might be able to justify the killing of the Ubar’s daughter in some way. After all, war is war, and Ar is the enemy, and there are always going to be some casualties. But, how about poor sana, the slave girl? The people of AR are not going to get a good laugh out of being fooled when they discover sana, and pat her on the back and say, “good one, you sure fooled us,” and then let her go. No, it was suggested she would be tortured a bit and then impaled on the walls of Ar.

Now, it was important to note that sana was not a volunteer. She was a slave girl on Gor, a piece of property, an animal, with no rights and completely disposable. The Goreans apparently did not think twice about sending her to certain death for a cause in which she had no interest or no stake.

However, Tarl could not accept this.

Here is what happens:

“You are free,” I said. “And we are going to Thentis.”

She sat before me, stunned, her hands unbelievingly at her throat.

“Why?’ she asked. “Why?”

What could I tell her? That I came from another world, that I was determined that all the ways of Gor should not be mine, or that I cared for her, somehow, so helpless in her condition—that she had moved me to regard her not as an instrumentality of mine or of the Council, but as a girl, young, rich with life, not to be sacrificed in the games of statecraft?”

Page 50 Tarnsman of Gor

Sana, being a Gorean female, and certainly no Gorean female suffers from an over blown sense of entitlement, immediately tries to repay Tarl. First, she suggests her father and brothers would be honor bound to give her to him, and without a “bride price.” (There is one of those contradictions that annoy us in the books…bride price does not seem to be accurate here, since the Goreans have Companionships and not marriages, but anyway.)

Then she suggests that he land the Tarn and let her “serve his pleasures.” Tarl does not accept this offer, and tries to trick her into hushing about repayment this way.

“It occurred to me that there was at least one reply which she, bred in the honor codes of Gor, should understand, one reply that should silence her. “Would you diminish the worth of my gift to you?” I asked, feigning anger.”

Page 51 Tarnsman of Gor

Tarl then detours, flies to Thentis, famed for her Tarn flocks, and lands on a high cylinder and drops her off. Sana is now free to return to her family. And apparently, security at Thentis was pretty lax on that particular day, because Tarl flies off to continue his mission minus his doomed decoy.

But, there in that story was a critical statement by Tarl. “I was determined that all the ways of Gor should not be mine.” Later, he was to express this same feeling when he says he envies the simplicities of Earth and of Gor, but would be as neither of them.

Tarl continues this practice through the early books. The Tatrix of Tharna is released from slavery and restored to her city in Outlaws of Gor. And in Nomads of Gor, Tarl wins the Kassar slave girl, formerly known as dina of Turia, in a contest of skill. He takes her back to the walls of Turia, and sets her free also.

This part of the story takes place around page 108-110 in Nomads of Gor. Tarl takes dina out alone to just outside the walls of Turia. The Tuchuks think he is taking her to sell her, but he sets her free, gives her a gold coin, and tells her to run for the city. Just like sana, dina suggests that she show her thanks by serving his pleasures one last time, and Tarl, much more Gorean now, sees no harm in this. I laughed when I thought about this change. He turned down sana, but he is apparently wising up a bit, and shares a little splendor in the grass moment, before Turian guards come out shooting arrows. Tarl hurries off and dina is again a Free Woman of Turia.

As time goes on in the books, and in Tarl’s story in Gor, he gets over this habit of freeing slave girls, and in fact, often enslaves Free Women, who all turn out to be happy slaves eventually.

I spend a lot of time thinking about this change, and I think that a lot of understanding about the Gorean process can come from examining this change. Did John Norman change? Did his attitude towards women change? Did he become a bit more of a misogynist as time went on and started to think of females as just sluts who belonged in collars rather than the glorious Free Women, he praised so highly in the earlier books?

My take on it is that as he fleshed out his Gorean world, and as Tarl became harder and more Gorean, we got a closer look at a more realistic world, but not a necessarily better one. I do not think Tarl ever backed off on his original determination that not “all the ways of Gor…would become his.” The idea was always going to be to point out the middle ground. It was a recognition that the most important idea in the whole Gorean experience was that the novels were going to focus on extremes. The softness of Earth and the failure of its Men to assume their birthright and relate to their females in a natural way that allows them full expression of their own identity was one extreme, and the books constantly remind us of that failing. The harsh non-consensual slavery of Gor with its idea that women were no more than domestic animals with no rights represented another extreme, and the ideal was going to be somewhere in the middle.

It would seem that this argument could be made to support the idea of an evolved Gor. It would be a Gor where women were considered totally equal and run around shooting arrows, and waving swords with the best of Men, and would take a completely equal role running things. In other words, we could make Gor more like modern day Earth. It would be like the Goreans had seen the error of their ways, recognized they were “too hard” and were mellowing out their society to be more like Earth.

The problem with this approach is that we are not really Goreans in need of softening. That was never the idea of online Gor. What we are is Earthlings in need of toughening up. In order to reach a balanced middle ground, we didn’t need to become bigger wussies. We were doing just fine there. The structure of online Gor, and even the role play world of Second Life Gor was going to be a platform to experiment with the process of becoming stronger and more true to the natural order of male/female relationships.

It is interesting to note that in both cases, sana of Thentis and dina of Turia, Tarl’s good deed of setting them free pays dividends to him later. Sana comes to his rescue in the battle of Ar, and ends up with his Sword Brother, Kazrak, and dina saves him and hides him out when he is trapped in Turia and in grave danger. This is always Norman’s pattern. I call it ” the good guys wear white hats, and the bad guys wear black hats, method. He shows us that Tarl did the right thing, and it was rewarded. It is sort of a morality karma method of making his point.

So, I wonder a lot about those two girls. I wonder if we have girls here in Second Life that are not meant to be slaves, or who are being treated badly or unfairly because they are slaves, and we should be setting them free and sending them on their way like Tarl did in those two cases.

And then I remember that big red X, and the consensual nature of our Gorean world. We do not force slavery on anyone here. We open the doors to it , and invite girls to come in and embrace it. And we do not have to fly them to Thentis and leave them with their families on a cylinder top, or sneak to the gates of Turia to let them go. They are free to leave at any time.

However, if they chose to stay, and they pass through that gateway of consent, we owe it to them to create this world right. We don’t need to evolve into the foolishness and weakness of Earth, and in fact, we are much better off portraying a bit more of the harshness of Gor.

All the ways of Gor will never be mine either. I will never lose my compassion for the afflicted, or my feelings of the need to protect the weak. I will treat my Gorean experience like a giant buffet, knowing some of the things available there can nourish me and make me stronger, and some of the things available there can make me a prick if I select them as my guideposts.

Perhaps, this has always been my complaint about “By the Book.” If it meant learning how to be the superior middle man…hardened by Gor, and softened a bit by his Earth experience, and occupying that middle, balanced ground, I was all for it.

If it meant being like the “too hard” Goreans, of that fictional world in any way outside of pure story line role play, I was going to resist it.

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