A Letter To The Lost
by _Marcus_ of Ar
I sat online, reading the latest list of "Gorean" channels which had recently sprung up, surprised and baffled by some of their topic lines, and chuckling to myself. Then I received a message from a slave whom I had known since I first logged onto IRC, one who had rivalled me in my knowledge of, and love of, all things Gorean. The very girl who had sent me scrambling after the Gor books to add to my knowledge of that wonderful fictional place.
She seemed to be upset, and angry, and very, very weary... she thanked me for "taking the time to listen to the words of a lost girl," for a lost girl she was. And she asked me a simple, honest question, and I felt my heart break as I sensed the depth of sadness in her words:
"Master Marcus... Where is Gor?" she asked.
For that nameless girl, and for all the other lost ones like her, I shall answer.
Where is Gor?
Is it to be found online, amidst the chatrooms, corkboards and message centers of the internet? Is it contained within a particular IRC channel, or chat service, or roleplaying room? Is it to be found on a website, are even upon all websites?
No, it cannot be found there. Not in any online venue, nor in every online venue, nor in all of the online venues put together. Not upon the entire internet, with its thousands upon thousands of server computers, with its millions of gigabytes of retrievable data. And if one were to illegally scan in every page of every book which John Norman ever wrote, and place them upon every server computer attached to the internet... Gor would still not be there.
Where is Gor?
Is it to be found within the celluloid frames of the movies which were created to tell its story? No, not there. The films which were created to tell the story of Gor were sad and laughable things, full of inconsistancies and devoid of the trappings and exhuberance which fill the Gor books to bursting. The two films which were created, which supposedly dealt with the subject of Gor but which were actually just another attempt by filmmakers to cash in on the success of a rather popular series of science-fiction/fantasy books, were empty. They depicted the activities of people in some other place than Gor. They were Xena, minus the tongue-in-cheek humor of that modern and highly successful syndicated program... they were BeastMaster and Deathstalker, but lacked even the dubious production values of those films, and the others which emulated them during the 1980's. Don't look for Gor between the credits of either of the two supposed "Gor" films... because you won't find it there.
Where is Gor?
Is Gor to be discovered by memorizing passages of prose from the series of books which gave form to the Counter-Earth? Can it be squeezed and gleaned from websites which discuss the particulars of Gorean concepts, lifestyles and philosophy? Can it be unmasked and revealed through logging into a chat channel on the internet and typing in the right combination of phrases at the correct times, and in the correct order?
Never. Because Gor is bigger than all of that. Because Gor, though replete with whips and chains and swords and collars, though filled with war and combat and the struggles of Men and their women, is not about any of that. It is about something else.
Gor is based upon love. Believe it or not.
That is the source of its greatness, and its strength. Gor is based upon the love which people can experience for their world, for their companions, and for their humanity. It is built upon the concept that men and women can love the truth, and that they can pursue that truth to its fullest extent. Those who know Gor, know that in it are contained all expressions of the love for life, the love of beauty, the love of strength, the love of honor, even the love which a group of men can feel toward a simple stone.
Those who cannot understand that Gor can be loved, and lived, will never be able to understand its strength, its purity, and its majesty. The planet Gor does not, and cannot, exist. But there are still those brave men and women who close their eyes and dream about it. In their imaginations they see the endless vistas of the green sa-tarna fields which dot that world, they behold the trackless crests of the mighty Voltai mountains, they smell the dust of the Plains of Turia and they feel the sweet clean air of another world upon their skin.
To such people, the Counter-Earth, though not a real place, is a true place. It is the stuff of myth. It is the Isle of Avalon; it is the Hidden Land under the Hollow Hills. It is the Faery Homeland of the Sidhe. It exists just beyond the borders of our waking world, ever ready to embrace those who dare to cross its boundaries and seek it, those who insist upon loving it for its own sake.
So, when you glance around you and feel cheated by the limitations of the internet and IRC, when you are appalled at the mess which has been made online and off by those who seek to emulate, but who can never understand, Gor, those who seem unable to simply love it for its own sake, never forget that Gor and the internet are not the same thing. At such times, do not despair; simply pick up one of those Gor books and close yourself up in a quiet room, and begin to read. Let your imagination take flight to another place, a better place, a place of wonders and truth and sacrifice and the honest sweat and labor of men and women who are working together to create an eden upon the other side of the sun. Read, and as you read, imagine that mankind can still be as innocent and as savage as it would be there, should Gor exist. Close your eyes and imagine that there could be Goreans, and that you might find your place among them.
Perhaps the power of Gor is that we cannot attain it, except through our dreams. We can strive to come closer to it, to understand it a bit better, and to immerse ourselves in the ebb and tide of Gorean interaction as it exists upon our world... but we cannot ever get there. It remains just beyond our reach, tantalizing us with glimpses of its honesty and beauty. But we cannot "make" Gor, not here upon Earth. Nor can we live *the* Gorean Lifestyle. There is no single Gorean Lifestyle to be lived. We can simply strive to live *a* Gorean Lifestyle, and attempt to find our own niche of Gorean simplicity, honor, and the love of life, here upon our own gray world.
Simply look around you. When the endless bickering and name calling and pontificating becomes too much for you to bear, when it begins to drown out the truth of what Gor is, and how it is, and how we might strive to be worthy of it, turn away and seek it elsewhere. Find the books which teach us of it, and travel beyond the sun to another world. And learn to love Gor, not for what you can make of it, but for its own sake.
That is where Gor is. In the hearts and souls of those who truly love it, and who have come to understand it and appreciate it for its own sake, not because it has impregnated the particular online medium which they typically frequent. One cannot find Gor in an IRC channel, or upon a website; one must seek it elsewhere, somewhere within oneself. The books are there to show you the way. They are the magic gateway you seek, which will reveal all of the triumph and despair and wonder of another, truer place. Pass through that gateway and know that only there, within those pages, is the genuine article you search for. There are good channels and poor ones, quality websites and foolish ones... but they are all things of Earth. To find Gor one must go beyond them, and look within oneself to discover whether or not one can love the Counter-Earth, for all of its faults and foibles.
To one who can do that, the endless insipidities of the online melieu fade into the background, and assume their correct position of importance, which is less than nothing when compared to the vastness and glory of the Counter Earth.
If you would know Gor, submerge yourself and give yourslf over to that fictional place. Imagine yourself among the denizens of that other world, and discover whether or not you can love it for its own sake, minus all of the ridiculous trappings of the internet and IRC. The measure of how "Gorean" you are comes not from how well you can type words to a screen, nor how well established is your channel or how many flames you can type to castigate others. The true battle must be fought within. Are you Gorean? Do you really wish to be?
Could you be?
If you would be Gorean, learn to love Gor. If you would live as a Gorean, learn to live with the same joy and earnest simplicity, and strength of heart, shared by the Goreans described in those books.
The millions of bytes of digital data being tossed around the bandwidth highways mean nothing to the Goreans, and should mean nothing to those who would emulate the Goreans. All of the retrievable memory on every computer in the world mean nothing when compared to the simplest stone in a summer garden. Pick up that stone and hold it, and know it to be real. Now pick up a handful of words, and weigh the two for yourself.
Gor is an idea, an ideal, a philosophical viewpoint; but it is also a real and discernable force in the lives of those who have embraced it, and love it. We are not measured for what we say; we are measured by who we are. The intricacies of the internet have little to do with it.
When next you wish to scream and rage at the indignities being heaped upon Gor upon the internet, simply recall that the internet is not connected to Gor. It cannot touch, or effect, anything Gorean. Those who fail to understand what Gor is all about, and who fail to respect and appreciate what Gor signifies, are doomed to eternal disappointment. They choose their fate by refusing to seek Gor for what it is, to understand and commune with its spirit and philosophy. They would define it, and simplify it, and weaken it, to make the task of understanding it easier for themselves... when all the while, all they have to do is simply find and read the Gor books and learn to love Gor. And if they cannot do that, then they would be better served by seeking some other goal, one within their abilities and easier for them to grasp.
When I am assailed by those who insist upon tearing out their hair in great handfuls at some recent rash of online idiocy, I simply have to laugh. I cannot help myself. I see people screaming that the ship is sinking, when the reason they boarded that ship in the first place was to seek the ocean. And while the ship may sink, the ocean remains, unchanged. One has only to stroll down the beach to the water's edge to find it; one has only to swim in it to understand it, and to learn that perhaps one need not fear it at all.
Gor is there. It will always be there, for those who wish to seek it. And to do so, they need only purchase a book and visit it. The often rampant silliness of IRC, and the various channels of half-baked pseudo Goreans, will pass away in time, perhaps to be replaced by another group of would-be Goreans who seem to think that Gor exists within the tiny databits which pass between computers.
It doesn't matter, though. Mixed in among such people, there will always be those who know and understand that Gor is not a thing of computers and typed commands. And while we can communicate with one another in a thousand different ways, it is those who love Gor who will determine how best that can be accomplished. The internet can be made to serve Gor; but Gor does not exist to serve the internet. It is far, far bigger than that.
Love Gor. Do not attempt to change it. Do not attempt to explain it away. Do not attempt to capture it and own it for yourself, because that is foolish vanity. Simply love it. And treasure those books, so that if you ever wish to experience Gor in its truest form, you can do so simply by diving in and taking a swim in it. And washing yourself clean of the lies and poisons, and the computer driven agendas, of Earth and its misguided inhabitants.
You may encounter me there, splashing around and enjoying myself immensely. If you do, and you ever feel yourself slipping beneath the waves for the third time, simply extend your hand, and it will be taken by myself, and by others who love Gor for its own sake, who will gladly keep you afloat as you come to know and understand the power of the sea in which we all swim... the sea of living, and the love of beauty, and simplicity, and truth.
You will have found Gor.
I wish you well.
And I, and those like me, shall continue to do all we can to find the lost ones, and bring them home.