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Life on Gor (Page 3 of 6)
by Julian X  /  non-fiction  /  20 Jun 2008

From Novels to Role-Players

 

With that, Norman’s literary career seemingly came to an end.  He found himself banned from bookstores and science-fiction circles.  But, as the reactionary gender feminism of the 1980s led to a backlash against political correctness in the 1990s, Norman’s novels started to grow in popularity, despite being out-of-print.

 

It didn’t hurt that the gay movement was gaining acceptance during this time.  On the coattails of acceptance of gay identity politics came tentative acceptance of BDSM, which had long been underground.  Suddenly, movies like Basic Instinct were making bondage cool.  Madonna’s cinematic disaster, Body of Evidence, even tried to duplicate this.  By the decade’s end, you got heroes like those of The Matrix wearing leather outfits straight out of SM clubs.

 

Of course, the internet boom was also occurring at this time.  It didn’t hurt the spread of alternative sexualities that you could easily download photographs of images that few Americans even knew how to find in print.

 

Along with the internet came online chat and role-playing games.  And Gor fans, calling themselves Goreans after the fictional planet’s inhabitants, were there.  Chatting about the series.  Adopting the series’s terminology.  Debating Norman’s philosophy.  Simulating encounters with slave-girls.

 

That’s right:  girls were somehow drawn to the series.  As if proving Norman’s theories of female nature right, girls were logging in and pretending to be slaves.  And getting whipped.  All over the anonymity of the internet.

 

While the Gor series languished, it was becoming a cult phenomenon.  Fans scrounged used book stores for old copies of the novels.  But Norman still struggled, in the wake of political correctness, to find a publisher.

 

In fact, it’s not clear how many self-professed Goreans had actually read many of the novels.  While these Goreans embraced the philosophy of the series, and adopted a lot of the terminology, they also made mistakes.  More precisely, they adapted the novels as the Gorean society evolved.

 

For example, slaves began logging in using no capital letters, followed by their owner’s name in curly brackets.  So “pepper {JD}” may well be a girl named Pepper who is my slave.  Meanwhile, the names of free people, including free women, were capitalized normally.  In fact, pronouns and terms relating to them were similarly capitalized, so the term “free woman” become “Free Woman.”  Similarly, “He” refers to a free man and “She” to a free woman.  In fact, this is an innovative improvement upon English pronouns, encoding more information (in this case, about status) within an easy and natural (in the sense that it doesn’t feel artificial) change to the pronoun system.  As with the system for slave names, we see here a certain economy of keystrokes (the same reason everyone today understands smileys, “LOL,” and about a thousand other abbreviations).  But these innovations didn’t come from the novels.

 

Another evolution came with the rule that first-person pronouns were prohibited to slaves.  To the slave, there is no “I,” no “me.”  Instead, Gorean slaves write and speak of “this one” and other such formulations.  While this can be found in some of the novels, it wasn’t the norm.  In fact, it seems to have been preserved as a punishment for particular slaves.  Whole novels were narrated by female slaves without once failing to use the “I.”

 

If we like, we may see this rule as more extreme than the philosophy of the novels:  indeed, by the rules of the novels, Gorean slaves prohibited to use first-person pronouns exist in a constant state of punishment.  Probably, this can be ascribed to the fact that real-life Goreans are a subset of society, of Western society in particular, that is particularly drawn to Gorean philosophy.  Thus, they are likely to be more extreme than the average person, whom that philosophy was designed to describe.

 

Online Gorean role-playing games grew to many thousands of subscribers.  Surprisingly, given how much of the internet is devoted to porn, sexual simulations online were surprisingly rare.  Despite these Goreans displaying a willingness to depart from the novels, it’s worth pointing out that this actually mirrors the novels themselves, in which sex is mostly implied.

 

Many Goreans seemed more interested in the overall positive values of Gorean society, going far beyond sexual slavery.  The word “Gor” means “home stone” in Gorean, and a “home stone” is a stone that is protected by a Gorean city-state.  Even insulting a home stone meant invoking the city’s wrath, and stealing one was the ultimate test of a character’s mettle.  The home stone is but one of the “three pillars” of Gorean society, right along with the “natural order” between men and women.  In this context, the home stone is said to represent a commitment to one’s community – a value many Goreans take seriously.

 

The other such pillar is the Gorean caste system.  On Gor, one’s occupation is utterly determined by one’s parentage.  Goreans are said to be part of the High Caste is they are warriors, scribes, holy men, doctors, or builders.  Theoretically, however, every Gorean is not only proud of his caste but considers it superior to all others.  The caste thus functions as a sort of community within the wider community of the city-state, and this is said to be one of the appeals of the Gorean lifestyle.

 

Instead of simulating online sex, Goreans sat at their terminals, talking about how to adapt Gorean culture to real Western societies on Earth.  Some even noted the irony of using advanced technology to talk about a fictional society that was explicitly defined as technologically primitive.  In fact, many felt that technology was one of the reasons why male and female natures, created by evolution, were so repressed.

 

A surprising amount of these Goreans interjected anachronisms:  about having to go change the baby’s diaper or having to answer the phone or the doorbell.  These Goreans knew and were largely willing to admit that, yes, they lived on Earth and not on Gor.  After all, the discussions of applying Gorean philosophy to Earth assume these facts.  These were surprisingly sane people for a group organized around a fantasy world of kidnapping, rape, and female slavery.

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Other Essays by Julian Darius:
Yellow Sign Series in the Vatican Museum
Feminism was a Response to Dishwashers
Life on Gor (Page 1 of 6)
Life on Gor (Page 2 of 6)
Life on Gor (Page 3 of 6)
Life on Gor (Page 4 of 6)
Life on Gor (Page 5 of 6)
Life on Gor (Page 6 of 6)
The Danger of Personality Tests
The Party’s Raging but the Messiah Stands Us Up
How to Have Fun with Scrabble
Love the Good Women, Boys, Love the Good Women
Against Gardner
I Need a Secretary
Cast Away Review