|Why do you think the Gor books are experiencing so much lasting popularity? Do you think there are younger audiences who are just discovering these books afresh? Do you think they speak to a 21st Century audience the same way they did to a 20th Century one? |
John Norman : The Gor books are not mere science fiction or adventure fantasy. They are also intellectual, philosophical, and psychological novels. They have a great deal to say, and have been willing to say it. One of their attributes, for better or for worse, is the fact that they examine an alien culture from the inside, seeing it rather as its indigenous populations might see it and understand it, rather than criticize it from the outside. They are, of course, written for a minority audience, highly intelligent, highly sexed adults, both men and women. This limits readership, but, I think, improves its quality. In any event, the reader is respected, not insulted.
I would suppose there are always new readers who discover the books. One hopes so, at any rate. As mentioned above, the books are written for adults; this is not, however, to deny that many young readers are fully capable of reading the books. Many young readers are, in effect, adult readers. Adulthood does not always index to chronology. Some adults are essentially children, and some children are, for most practical purposes, intellectually, and such, adults. I would count anyone who can read the Gorean books intelligently as, for most practical purposes, an adult reader. The real distinction here is not adult/child, but good/not so good.
As the Gorean books deal with human things in a human way, and have to do with human constants, I do not think they are indexed to any particular time or place. One still reads Homer, Herodotus, the Song of Roland, Cervantes, Austen, Dickens, Nietzsche, and so on. I should like to think the books get on well without clocks and dates. It is possible, of course, that particular or local values might differ a bit from time to time. For example, in an age of hatred, censorship, and suppression, they might, in virtue of their integrity and difference, inadvertently play a role which they might not in a more liberated, open time, in which diversity was welcomed and celebrated, and the gates of the literary marketplace were not policed by a narrow, insecure, politically uniform constabulary.
Have you spent any time among the Gorean communities on the internet, such as Second Life? What do you think of the popularity of real-life Gorean slavery among some people in the BDSM community?
John Norman : No. I am not a computer person. I am, so to speak, still trying to figure out quill pens. I have heard of Second Life, but know very little about it. I have heard that large numbers of my books have been "pirated," so to speak, and distributed freely in that community. I am disappointed that individuals would do that, if they are doing that. Let us hope that that claim is mistaken. If individuals do care for an author, and his work, it seems to me they should, in respect, refrain from such a practice. Intellectual property is property, after all, as much as a baseball glove or a bicycle.
I know nothing about "real-life Gorean slavery among some people in the BDSM community." The "BDSM" reference worries me. I dissociate myself from BDSM, at least as I understand it. I may, of course, misunderstand it. I wonder if one would settle merely for "real-life Gorean slavery," because, as I understand it, BDSM is not Gorean. If something is not beautiful, it is not Gorean. In any event, I am assuming that what is involved here, in any case, is consensual. If a woman chooses to submit herself, voluntarily, to a master, it seems to me that is her business, and his business. She would then, of course, be a slave, and would be treated as a slave. One supposes remarkable fulfillments may occur in such an arrangement. It is, of course, important to treat the slave, however uncompromisingly strict you are with her, however much she might fear you, in a humane way, as one would any other animal. Some men, I gather, dislike women, and enjoy hurting them. That makes no sense to me. Women are wonderful, and precious. It is a delight to own one; why would one hurt her? What would be the point of that, mere sadistic pleasure? I think we might distinguish between, say, S/M sex, or sadomasochistic sex, and M/S sex, or Master/Slave Sex. In a sense they seem opposite. Love is important. It is not to be confused with cruelty. Gratuitous cruelty seems to me uncalled for, and ugly, morally and aesthetically. Too, it seems unworthy of a true master. The point is loving and serving, and owning and mastering, not hurting. To be sure, the slave must understand that if she is not pleasing, she is subject to discipline. She is not to be left in doubt that she is a slave. It is easy to avoid discipline; she need only be obedient, submissive, and found pleasing, wholly, and in all ways. Sometimes a slave may desire to be reassured of her bondage. There are many ways in which the master, if he wishes, may see to this. I have written an entire book, the Imaginative Sex book, in which my views on such matters should be reasonably clear.