This brilliant, valuable essay on the subject, is from Ubar Luther and is well worth a read. The points he makes are worthy of consideration, when we use quotes from the books to support our arguments
It is very common for people to use a quote from the Gorean novels to support a proposition. Yet, a quote alone may not guarantee the validity of a proposition.
The quote should undergo a certain analysis to ascertain its level of validity, its measure of applicability for the proposition it is meant to support. The thirty-three books of the Gorean series contain a total of over 15,000 pages of information and a single quote out of that abundance of material may not be sufficient to prove anything.
Thus, this essay will provide some guidance in how to analyze a quote in an attempt to determine and enhance its credibility and applicability. Please note that these are only some suggested guidelines and other may exist as well. They are intended to give some direction though not intended to be the only path to their destination.
First, we should determine whether the quote is even applicable to the proposition we seek to prove. Sometimes people will offer a quote as proof yet that quote actually has little or nothing to do with the subject at hand. This may be obvious in some cases or more subtle in others. We might have a quote that states "all Ka-la-na wine is red."
Someone may then try to use that to state all Gorean wines are red. Obviously, the quote does not truly support the proposition. Thus, read the quote closely and see if it actually does support the proposition you wish to put forth.
Second, we should determine whether the quote appears ambiguous or not. Sometimes that is easy to determine while other times it may be unclear. If there is any doubt, then it is probably better to err on the side of ambiguity. For example, a quote that stated "Ka-la-na wine is always red" would clearly denote the color of Ka-la-na wine. If on the other hand the quote said "I drank a light Ka-la-na wine" then the precise color of the wine would not be clear. The adjective "light" may refer to the color, body or flavor of the wine.
Even if we knew it referred to the color, "light" could mean a white color or even a light red color. We need would more evidence to determine its actual color. Now, if the quote said "I drank a red Ka-la-na wine" then that too would be somewhat ambiguous as to the color of Ka-la-na wine in general. The quote does show that some Ka-la-na wines are red but it does not state that all of them are red. Other colors could exist as well.
Examined in another light, if all Ka-la-na wine were red, then it would be unnecessary to describe it as a "red Ka-la-na" in that quote. Thus, the implication would be that other colors exist. An ambiguous quote is obviously most often less credible than a clear quote in proving a proposition. If a quote is ambiguous, then further evidence will be needed to clarify the vagueness. For example, additional quotes would be needed to support the proposition.
Third, we should examine who is speaking in the quote. Is it a free man or a slave speaking? A native Gorean or someone from Earth? A Warrior or Potter? The speaker may have personal biases that color their comments so their words may not accurately reflect reality.
For example, a person from Earth who is new to Gor may consider all Goreans to be "misogynistic and brutal thugs." Obviously their bias colors their opinion so it may not be an accurate statement. A speaker may also have other motivations for saying what they do. We need to determine, if possible, what the motivations of the speaker are to ascertain whether what they say is valid or not.
The speaker could be lying for personal gain, or saying something to appease an enemy. The speaker could also be offering just their opinion, which may or may not be correct. That speaker could be basing their opinion on erroneous information.
Fourth, we need to determine the context of the quote. When and where was it spoken? What events were occurring at the time the words were spoken? Which events occurred before the quote and which events occurred afterwards? The context surrounding a quote can be very important, especially in trying to ascertain the clarity of an ambiguous statement.
For example, you might have a quote that shows a man enslaving a free woman. Based on the quote, it may seem the man is doing so without legal justification. That quote may then be used to justify enslaving a woman without a valid reason. But, if we examine the context, we may find the legal justification that was lacking from the limited section quoted. The quote did not tell the whole story.
Fifth, we should try to locate any other quotes that deal with the subject of the quote in question. Is this quote the only one on the subject? Or, are there other quotes that can be used for contrast and/or comparison? This then leads to a two-prong analysis. On the one hand, additional quotes can be used to support and explain any ambiguity in a quote. If our quote states that "Ka-la-na wine left a red stain on the white rug" and there are 19 other quotes mentioning red Ka-la-nas, but only one that potentially mentions a white Ka-la-na, then it is safer to assume that Ka-la-na is usually a red wine. Obviously the more quotes you can find to support a proposition, the more secure you can be in your conclusions.
On the other hand, you must also determine whether there are quotes that contradict your original quote? With over 10,000 pages, the Gorean books often have multiple references on a myriad of topics. Just because a single quote exists, that does not mean it is guaranteed to be valid if there are multiple quotes contradicting it. Norman did make mistakes within the Gorean series, as most authors do in lengthy series. Thus, we must be careful in what isolated quotes we consider to be valid. For example, if we see a single quote that "Ka-la-na wine is white in color" but there are seven other quotes that say "Ka-la-na wine is always red in color" then it is most likely the single quote was a mistake. It is easier to accept a single mistake like that rather than 7 mistakes. If you want to hold to the validity of your isolated quote, then you should logically explain the reasons for all of the contradictory quotes. If there are multiple quotes that support the quote in question, then that helps to enhance its validity.
Sixth, we must be sure to view most quotes through the eyes of a Gorean and not an Earth person. The thinking of the Gorean and the Earth person vary in different contexts. Each has their own philosophies for viewing the world. Obviously if we are trying to determine the validity of a Gorean issue, we need to examine it through the eyes of a Gorean. The issue whether females of the Warrior Caste are trained as warriors or not is an example of such. That should be examined through the lens of a Gorean and not based on the experiences of Earth women. Pointing out how Earth women have fought in wars or are superb athletes has little if any relevance to the issue as we are dealing with Goreans. The issue of female Warriors needs to be examined from the context of the Caste system and what will serve its welfare best. That is a purely Gorean issue. We cannot impose our philosophies and values on Gorean issues if we are seeking to learn what Goreans hold to be true.
Seventh, we should consider whether a quote is an example of behavior or a more general statement about that behavior? The Gorean books are filled with exceptional individuals, those who do not fit the norm in some manner. But those examples are not intended to illustrate the common person, to present a usual behavior on Gor.
Using these individuals to make general statements about Gor is often incorrect because they are the "exceptions that prove the rule." Norman often makes it quite clear that these are unusual exceptions.
For example, some point to Tarna in Tribesman of Gor as an example that women could battle as Warriors. Yet Norman makes it quite clear that she is unusual, not the norm. If other female Warriors existed, she would have likely been compared to them, yet she was not. She is an isolated example, not proof of the norm of Gorean society. Tarl Cabot and some of the other major characters in the books are also unique individuals and some of their actions may also not be the norm.
Now, even an ordinary individual may do an extraordinary action that does not conform to the norm. Thus, you must be very careful in using isolated examples of behavior to prove a general point about Gor.
Eighth, it can be important to ascertain which book a quote comes from. In general, the later books are more authoritative as they are the ones that underwent much more thought and organization. In any long series, an author sometimes wants to change certain matters in the latter part of the series.
Other times, he realizes there is a better way to do something so he changes what has occurred in the past. The monetary system of Gor is a good example of that. In the early novels, there were copper and silver tarsks and tarns. But, those books did not discuss exchange rates or provide a coherent monetary system.
They simply mention the coins at various places. But, if you examine the entire series, the use of copper and silver tarns drops off and finally is omitted altogether by half-way through the series. It is in the later books that exchange rates are provided and they never mention copper or silver tarns, only tarsks.
None of the extended quotes on the monetary system make reference to the existence of copper and silver tarns. It seems apparent that Norman desired to drop those from his consideration when he finally developed all of the details of his monetary system in the later books. There is little rational reason why those copper and silver tarns would otherwise be omitted.
Ninth, we should also consider the situation where there are no quotes that specifically prohibit something on Gor. If a specific prohibition is lacking, some people then assume it can occur on Gor. But, remember that Norman could not prohibit everything that did not exist on Gor. That would have taken several books on its own to do.
But, did Norman really need to explicitly state that vampires or dragons do not exist on Gor or could that simply be assumed? Any such matter needs to be examined logically and through a Gorean lens.
More than a specific lack of a prohibition is needed to prove something's existence on Gor. Or disprove its existence. As an example, lets consider the issue of red sugar. Although "red salt" is mentioned within the Gorean series, there is no specific quote that states "red sugar" exists. So, does that mean red sugar definitely does not exist on Gor?
No, it does not. There is no specific quote that states "red sugar does not exist on Gor." Instead, we have a quote that mentions there are at least 4 types of sugar on Gor, two of them being yellow and white. The other two sugars are not described at all. It is possible that one of those unknown sugars is red. It is possible they could be any of a number of different colors. The matter is too ambiguous to state that, beyond a doubt, red sugar does not exist on Gor.
The key here is that a single quote does not automatically prove anything. Proof is often more complex than that and a careful analysis of the issue is often warranted. Be wary of the potential dangers and pitfalls in using quotes. Try your best to create well reasoned, well informed and well supported opinions. Try to use as many quotes as possible to justify your position. Present logical and cogent arguments to support your propositions.
Obviously, it is extremely helpful if you have read all of the Gor books and can refer to them while constructing your arguments. If you have not read or are missing certain Gor books, then you are lacking potentially relevant information. Thus, do your best to obtain all of the Gorean series.
thanks to Ubar Luther for writing this, thank you to Master Don Calliope for bringing this to my attention