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Gor, the Counter-Earth, is the alternate-world setting for John Norman's "Chronicles of Gor", a series of 27 novels that combine philosophy, erotica and science fiction.
The customs, terminology and imagery depicted in these books has
related BDSM-influenced subculture. On- and off-line followers of this
lifestyle are called Goreans.
John Norman, pen name of John Frederick Lange, Jr. (born June 3, 1931), is the author of the Gor series, which sold several million copies in the 1970s and early 1980s, and still has many fervent fans today. He holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University and is a philosophy professor at Queens College of the City University of New York in New York City.
As well as the Gor books, Norman published a non-fictional sex manual "Imaginative Sex" in 1974, which presents a series of elaborate fantasy scenarios to be acted out (rather than advocating a real-world 24/7 lifestyle), and recommends that symbolic substitutes (such as the sound of claps) should be used instead of actual physical chastisements (such as whippings):
|John Norman, in Imaginative Sex, wrote:|
Obviously, in the fantasy, the woman may not be struck with a whip. It would hurt her to do so. Acting, however, as though she is being beaten can be sexually stimulating to her. Really being beaten, besides being immoral, would just make her miserable. You wish to give her pleasure. Pain is not pleasure. If she should really desire you to hurt her, you should get her to a doctor. Assuming that a whip is not available, and there is no reason one should be available, the male may simply, sharply, clap his hands, and the woman reacts as thought struck.
Norman developed similar male dominant, female submissive philosophies
in his other
fantasy/science fiction novels, but these failed to attract many fans.
They include Time Slave
(1975) and Ghost Dance (1979) which are set in a pseudo-historical
Earth (early neolithic and 19th century respectively), and a science
fiction trilogy, the Telnarian Histories (The Chieftain, The Captain,
and The King) that he
wrote in the early 1990s.
The first book, "Tarnsman of Gor", was published in 1967 and like most of the subsequent titles, was narrated by British college teacher Tarl Cabot, master swordsman and possibly Norman's alter-ego, as he engages in adventures involving humans and alien species on Gor. Unlike later books in the series, Cabot rejects Gor's slave-owning society. He sets his slavegirl free, and then sets off for a swashbuckling adventure. In later books, Cabot slowly embraces slave- owning, and eventually owns several slaves. Books 7, 11, 19, 22, and 26 of the series are narrated by abducted Earth women who are made slaves and who describe how they come to find fulfillment in their slavery. Books 14, 15 and 16 are narrated by male abductee (and initially slave) Jason Marshall, who escapes from slavery and thus affirms Norman's male- dominant philosophy.
Although bondage, sadism and slavery has always been present in the Gor
of philosophical and psychological justification for male dominance
became longer and longer as the series continued, increasingly
detracting from the books' plots. Possible reasons for this include
use of his then-popular series to battle the emerging feminist
demand for his books was so great that they were printed without
editing by the later
publishers of the series. In
any case, the significant readership among people uncomfortable with
BDSM or his distracting justifications was lost. His philosophical
diatribes are so wordy, so
pedantic, and so formulaic that they have inspired numerous parodies
Norman repeatedly presents pseudo-Darwinian analyses of gender differences to contend that women are the submissive natural helpers, and figurative slaves, of men. His work often takes this observation literally: heroes enslave heroines who, upon being enslaved, revel in the discovery of their natural place.
At right, versions of the female ("Kajira") and male ("Kajirus") forms
of the Kef symbol, which is the main Gorean slave marking.
Goreans on Earth
The word Gorean is also applied to adherents of the philosophies espoused in Norman's writings, especially someone who lives a lifestyle based on this philosophy. While the most conspicuous Gorean departure from mainstream modern norms is that Goreans allow and indeed promote sexual master/slave relationships, many who take the Gorean worldview seriously would insist that being Gorean is not necessarily about either sex or slavery, but about the general Gorean philosophy: that is, living in accordance with a Nietzsche-esque natural order, sponsoring a hierarchy of talent, especially strength.
For years there has been an active fan base on the Internet, particularly on IRC channels which sprang up during the mid-1990s, offering Gorean roleplaying in the style of online BDSM. Most writers and websites advocating the Gorean philosophy have grown out of online roleplay environments.
Serious "lifestyle" Goreans are committed to a whole Gorean way of life
in which kinky sex plays only a relatively small role. They often
don't consider most of BDSM to be very directly relevant to what it is
that they do, and do not judge themselves by BDSM standards.
This article is published under the terms of the GFDL. The contributors to this article were: AnonMoos, Steve_Vakesh, Tanos, Yarakot
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