Do not ask the stones or the trees how to live; they cannot not tell you; they do not have tongues; do not ask the wise man how to live, for, if he knows, he will know he cannot tell you; if you would learn how to live, do not ask the question; its answer is not in the question but in the answer, which is not in words; do not ask how to live, but, instead proceed to do so.
Gorean saying from Tarnsman of Gor
As some of my friends and readers know from my travels across Second Life (SL), I’ve been frustrated for some time about my inability to enter the community of Gor inworld and meet its participants and learning about the lifestyle. I felt like any writer trying to get into a closed society (e.g., organized crime, cults, the Jimmy Kimmel fan club) and is frustrated by his or her inability to get inside.
Gor is a fictional universe based on the novels of John Norman. They are fairly controversial given their treatment of women. But, SL being the place that it is, whole communities have been built around this theme. Gorean communities are purportedly among some of the largest and best organized inworld. I’ve been meaning to visit them and see for myself what’s going on.
Well, I’m happy to report, I’ve finally made it inside Gor in SL!
A friend introduced me a freewoman of Gor, Lady Wiebeline Hoorenbeek (AKA Lady Bel, seems no one can pronounce her name.) who would be happy to meet me and show me around. (OK, maybe she wasn’t happy to see me but she was happy to show me around Gor.) An exchange of IM’s and we were set.
Now, one doesn’t rush into a Gorean sim in SL. One must be properly attired. Lady Bel gave me some homework of which the primary to do was getting an appropriate set of clothes. She even gave me a LM for a place to obtain some freebie Gorean clothing. What could be simpler right?
Well, to make a long story short, I waited until the night before our appointment to visit the freebie shop. Seems they had primarily women’s clothing and what little men’s clothing they had was suitable for me. I didn’t think cross dressing was appropriate for my first introduction to the Gorean lifestyle. As for the men’s clothing, after a little research, I’d decided to go as a scribe. Seemed logical and less likely to get my avatar killed. So, the professional assassin’s costume didn’t work.
OK, SL is full of freebies right? How hard could this be. Let me just say this, women have a lot more choices when it comes to dressing as a Gorean in SL. Especially if they don’t object to be partially dressed and fully chained. Men are OK if they’re willing to either do the same or go as Conan the Barbarian. While all this is going on a female friend was chding me via IM about the usual female prejudices about men and shopping. I don’t want to say I was stressed but pressure was building. (After all, I couldn’t exactly go nude because that would have brought up a whole slew of other issues I wasn’t about to go into either.)
Eventually, I located a fairly decent scribe’s costume from a purveyor of medieval costumes and it cost me a few Linden (not too many) and I was set.
Except that I waited until about fifteen minutes before I meet Lady Bel to put my new clothes on. (Remember my latest failed makeover.) I sense the dismay in Lady Bel’s voice when I ask if I could show up nude. I manage to get my pants on and literally run out the door of my house to go meet her at Spirit Wilds. After a rushed exchange of greetings, I manage to complete getting dressed while Lady Bel completes the arrangements for our trip. I’m told to greet people by saying “Tal”. OK, I can handle that.
A word about Lady Bel. She is dressed in a free woman’s costume which consists of a floor length dress and a veil. We may be going to Gorean communities where women are required to go about veiled in public. She had once been a slave and obtained her freedom and is now a seamstress in Gor.
Our first stop is Genesian Port where I receive my first introduction to Gorean life. (That is after learning to dress myself.) Lady Bel instructs me in how to obtain and wear my combat meter and HUD. (This is where I’m telling myself that I’m a non-combatant. Right?) We then TP to the nearby trade docks.
When we arrive, I look around at the surrounding scene and am impressed. I see a port in the style of Late Middle Ages or Early Renaissance in Real Life (RL). (No, I wasn’t there but I read a lot.) Someone has gone to a lot of trouble to create a realistic scene. (Or, as realistic as something can be when based on a series of books about an alternate Earth.) The few people about are dressed in typical Gorean costume.
While I’ve been playing a gawking tourist with everything but a camera, Lady Bel has been talking with one of the locals to see if she can get us into some brief RP. She leads us into the town where we meet a slave woman who agrees to take us to a local inn for food and drink.
Lady Bel and I sit on cushions placed on the floor around a round table. The slave girl serves us pastries and tea. I notice Lady Bel offers some of her food to the slave which she takes. The RP is real and full of little gestures and expressions.
I keep telling myself that I’m in society based on dominant men and submissive women where slavery and physical punishment are condoned. Lady Bel, a RL woman, keeps IM-ing me that this is a RP and everything I see is consensual. She tells me as RL woman she’s not crazy about this behavior but it’s only in the context of this virtual world. So I play along. (Significant Other warns me not to get any ideas.)
We talk with the slave about her life inworld and she plays the role to the hilt. (I won’t be starting any revolutions around here anytime soon.) She asks us if we’d like to speak with her master about Gorean life and his responsibilities to his slaves. We assent and she contacts him to ask if he’ll meet us. Lady Bel are lucky because the master agrees to meet with us. We follow the slave to a tearoom.
The tearoom is located on a large veranda and is shaded by a trellis overlooking the sea. A large man in typical Gorean costume (I have to meet his tailor.) sits on cushions on the ground around a circular table. (I’m picking up a pattern here.)
Lady Bel and I join our host at his table after making our introductions. (Apparently, I’m described as a scribe for a gazette who asks questions. Works for me.) The slave is sent to the kitchen to help the master’s wife. A kind repartee goes on among our host, his wife, and the slave. It’s like being invited into a family’s home and sitting down at the kitchen table and listening to their give ‘n take.
The wife joins us in traditional costume covered from head to toe in flowing robes. Eventually, the slave rejoins us. In the meantime, the master of the house answers my questions about how he became a slave owner when a friend gave him an unneeded slave (Yes, I know how that sounds as I write it.) and the responsibilities of maintaining them. Lady Bel has been IM-ing me that she finds his level of RP extremely good and is impresses by the completeness of his answer and their realism. He is humorous and plays the role of a gregarious, friendly host very well. (I wish I could people like him in RL.) A family friend drops by and joins us at the table. It all seems so natural.
Unfortunately, yours truly has to leave to get back to RL. (Pesky thing sometimes.) Lady Bel explains that we have to catch an early boat and we take or leave.
Several blocks away, we stop and talk about what we’ve just seen. I must say that I’m impressed by it. This Gorean town is a highly functioning social system. Everyone seems to be integrated into the RP.
Lady Bel offers to show me more later and I accept her very kind offer. She did all the heavy lifting for this story.
I thank Lady Bel for all her help and we agree to meet again soon for another visit to Gor. I’m finally on a roll with Gor!
Below please find links to several pictures that I took during this quick introduction to Gor. As always, don’t rely on my crude efforts with photography. But, please if you go, respect the rules around costume and behavior. The last thing Gor needs is busloads of tourists gawking. (Remember must people go about in Gorean sims carrying sharp instruments, even the slaves.)
I’d like to thank Lady Bel for taking the time to meet with me, answer my questions, and take me around the world of Gor. I hope I haven’t embarrassed her too much! Since in my rush to leave I didn’t receive permission to quote my Gorean hosts, I have quoted them directly or identified them. But I am grateful to all of them for their hospitality!
Gor inworld is a very interesting place. I have many more questions and I want to get answers. I hope to blog more frequently about the world of Gor in SL. Watch this space for more to come!
As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.
I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life please click here.
If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life please click here.
Photo No. 1 webspelunker as a Scribe
Photo No. 2 Lady Bel
Photo No. 3 Genesian Port
Photo No. 4 Meal at an Inn
Photo No. 5 Host in Tearoom