Saturday, June 8, 2013

Reflections on Gor in Second Life

There is a saying on Gor that the laws of a city extend no further than its walls.

Outlaw of Gor               

               My last two stories have been about Gor in Second Life (SL).  I will now do something I haven’t done in a while and complete a trilogy by writing once again about Gor with this story.
          Why? Goreans will not need to ask this question.  Non-Goreans of the adventurous sort will not need this either.  (Except out of curiosity for what silliness I may write.)  Other non-Goreans may wonder why I even bothered to write the first two stories.
That’s the point!
Gor brings out all sorts of emotions in SL.  Since I’ve begun blogging about SL, I haven’t had the kind of visceral reaction that Gor has produced.  (Significant Other was convinced that I’d be laughed off the Grid when I started wandering around nude. But I digress.) 
Gor is a fictional universe based on the novels of John Norman.  They are fairly controversial given their treatment of women.  Some have challenged the quality of their writing.  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.  I’m finally able to visit and see for myself what’s going on.
My Gorean experiences have been limited so far to Genesian Port and two brief forays into other cities.  A freewoman of Gor, Lady Wiebeline Hoorenbeek (Lady Bel), and a friend of mine took on a tour of this seaport.  Another freewoman, Lady Sophia Farella, a resident of Genesian Port and the editor-in-chief of the Genesian Gazette, the town newspaper, sat me down on my next visit and gave me her life story in Gor. 
From my new friends, I’ve learned a lot about Gor and have also realized how little I know.  (Like not picking locks on gates if I don’t want to get arrested.  Gorean jails are not known for their comfortable accommodations.)    
Walking around in Gor, I notice several things.  First, many Goreans are always about, at least relative to other sims.  Next, Goreans take their roleplaying seriously.  (Some people I’ve met describe them as humorless and hardcore which for me are synonyms for “seriously”.)  As I wander through the streets, I develop an appreciation for the variety of characters supporting the story.  A busker plays a banjo down on the docks.  A street waif offers to open a locked gate for me for the price of a copper.  (That’s a Gorean coin for those readers from New York and London, not a police officer.)  Kajirae (female slaves) and kajirus (males slaves) in various states of dress wander about or kneel on the pavement to their masters.  Apparently, as long as they don’t board ships to leave the city, most are given permission to roam freely. 
Goreans are very security conscious.  A fear of raids seems pervasive.  Property crimes are common.  One Gorean complains to me of having a shipment of goods ripped off from her in Genesia.  Lady Sophia frets about being captured and enslaved by a former companion.  Once, while walking to her offices, a free woman I encountered on the street thought I looked like someone who meant her harm (Significant Other laughs at the notion.) and I was looking at a very mean mob and was only saved by the intervention of one of Lady Sophia’s friends. 
The intensity of the roleplay in SL Gor is impressive.  Not just the dialogue, which is the most elaborate I’ve encountered inworld, but in the feelings expressed in the dialogue.  I go back to Lady Sophia’s description in my last story of Real Life (RL) feelings when her free companion died inworld. 
One does not go for a casual stroll in Gorean SL like one would elsewhere on the Grid.  One must be prepared to encounter roleplaying Goreans and going OOC is generally not a good response! 
I’ve begun to wonder if Gor represents what SL could evolve to if it’s to be successful.  A world of castes, ritual, and culture which all participants agree to abide by even if it may conflict with our RL views and practices.  There is an economy although some practices such as slave auctions for Linden dollars are prohibited.  (I’m still trying to verify this.) 
 The responses to my Gorean stories have varied from pro-Goreans who have enjoyed the stories and their balance, as I’ve been told, to others who have avoided me because they view my stories as the sign of being a Gorean myself. 
I am not a Gorean but a barbarian as I’m reminded every time I visit.  As I travel around SL, I don’t participate in the various lifestyles I meet because I move around too much and can’t make the commitment to participate adequately with the group.  (Please no emails on this, ladies.) I do not do this out of judgment no matter what my personal views may be.  As for people who’d rather not associate with me because of my writings, well, that’s their choice.  I’ll write about whomever and whatever I want inworld.  (The chief advantage of having one’s own blog!)  
          Below please find links to several pictures that I took during my visits in Gor.    As always, don’t rely on my crude efforts with photography.  But, please when 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.) 
          Gor inworld is a very interesting place from a people perspective, a build view, and culturally.  Each visit leaves me with more questions and a desire to visit now places.  I will go back for answers and whatever else I can encounter. 
There are more cities and towns to visit.  Ships to be sailed and businesses to be frequented.  I hope to blog more frequently about all of these in 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 . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.   

Photo No. 1   Lady Sophiaa Farella

Photo No. 2   Lady Bel

Photo No. 3   Lady Sophiaa and Safi

Photo No. 5   Meal at an Inn

Photo No. 6   Safi at Sunset

Photo No. 7   Gorean Busker

Photo No. 8   Genesian Gazette Kiosk

Photo No. 9   Genesian Gazette Offices

Photo No. 10   Genesian Street Scene


Sophia Farella said...

I very much enjoyed your visit with me in Genesian Port, good Sir. You were a delight to talk to and you are welcome anytime.You still have a few things wrong, a simple misunderstanding of some things discussed but I would like to encourage you to read Luther's Scrolls. His writings are similar to the cliff notes you read when you need a summary concerning a certain topic. They helped me when I first began in Gor and I refer to them often for book quotes in the various articles I write for the Genesian Gazette. I would also be willing to help anyone who may be curious about Gor, as best I can. Just come in-world and IM me. Thank you, Lady Sophia (Sophiaa Farella)

webspelunker said...

Lady Sophia,

Thanks again for your time and hospitality! I promise to get things straight.



Laskya Claren said...

Ignoring for a moment my ideological feelings about novels that were originally written as a reactionary response to the rise of the women's rights movement, and to role play that has misogyny and sexual violence embedded deeply within it, I'd like to respond to some of the points you make here.

First, there are, or certainly were, many kinds of Gorean RP in SL; some of these are hardcore by-the-book, and others are much looser. There was even at one time a "feminist" Gor sim (as much as that boggles the mind). Generalizations based on a single sim are bound to miss out on the whole range of possible Gorean "experiences," so I think you need to add that as a caveat to your remarks.

Personally, I think that the kind of "intense" RP that you describe (whether or not it actually applies to Gor) is not necessarily a "good" thing, or a good model for SL generally. Gor is remarkable for producing very tight and strong communities, which is generally a positive, but they tend to be extremely inward looking. This is particularly the case with the by-the-book Gorean RP. They "contribute" to SL culture and economy, but they don't really engage with it the way that other communities do. I suspect that this is a function of the approach to RP.

The other more philosophical point I'd like to express -- and again, I'm making this more in response to your comments about this kind of RP as a "model" for SL than I am about Gor per se -- is that really intensive RP that does not allow for OOC interaction tends to blur the distinctions between the "real" and the "role play." I'm all for immersion, but RP becomes something other than RP where there isn't a very clear boundary between roles and identity. Free "play" is great, can be enjoyable, relaxing, and even instructive, but blurring those bounds can mean that it's no longer "play" at all, and on its way to becoming something more like delusion.

webspelunker said...


TYVM for reading and commenting!

You're correct. There are many variations of the Gorean experience inworld. And, there are many of them.

The cautionary point about RP is a very valid one. I wonder if this time of involvement by players is sustainable assuming nothing untoward happens to SL.