The long predict: A sought for the inexplicable scribe of a counterculture classic led to someone else solely. Or did it?
Toward the end of the 1960 s, Luke Rhinehart worked as a psychoanalyst in New York and was borne potent. He lived in a reasonably apartment with a neat judgment. He practised yoga, read books on Zen, dreamed vaguely from participating in a cooperative but did not dare. As a healer, he was resolutely nondirective. If a patient who still had not lost his virginity was blighted by cruel impulses and said on Rhinehart’s couch that he would like to rape and kill a little girl, his professional ethics impelled him to repeat with a soothe spokesperson:” You’d like to abuse and kill a little girl ?” No ruling. But what he wanted to say was:” Well, go ahead, then! If what really turns you on is abusing and killing a little girl, then stop boring me with this fantasy. Do it !”
He checked himself before coming out with such monstrosities, but they obsessed him more and more. His own fantasizes were nothing extreme- not enough to get him sent to prison- but like everybody else, he stopped himself going through with them. What Luke would have liked, for example, was to sleep with Arlene, the wife of his colleague Jake Ecstein, who lived across the landing. But as a loyal partner, he let the idea simmer apart in the back of his mind.
So life ploddings on, mollify and sad, until one darknes after a dinner party, when he has had a little too much to booze. Rhinehart considers a dice lying on the carpet, a tiresome playing dice, and gets the idea of throwing it and acting on its regulations. He says to himself:” If it lands on a number from two to six, I’ll do what I would have done anyway: wreaking the dirty glasses back to the kitchen, brush my teeth, take a double aspirin, go to bed beside my sleeping bride, and maybe masturbate discreetly thinking of Arlene. But if I roll a one, I’ll do what I actually wishing to: I know Arlene’s at home alone tonight, so I’ll go across the hall, knock on her door and slept with her .”
The dice regions on one. Rhinehart pauses, feeling vaguely that he is standing on a threshold: if he sweeps it, his life could change. But “its not” his decision, it is the dice’s, so he obeys. Arlene opens the door in a negligee; she is caught but not bring out. When Rhinehart comes back home two extremely pleasant hours later, he realises that he has changed. He did something he wouldn’t normally do.
From now on, he always consults the dice. Since it has six line-ups, he imparts it six options. The first is to do what he has always done. The five others depart more or less plainly from this number. Once it has been subjected to the dice, even the most anodyne choice- that of a cinema, a restaurant- opens a immense array of possibilities for putting your number behind you.
His options soon are becoming ever more brash. Going somewhere he would never proceed, to be informed about people he would otherwise never encounter. He propagandizes his patients to leave their families and jobs, to change their political and sex directions. His reputation suffers, but Rhinehart does not care. What he likes , now, is doing the exact opposite of what he would normally do: putting salt in his chocolate, canting in a tuxedo, going to work in shorts, pee-pee in the flowerpots, stepping backward, sleeping under his bed. His wife concludes him strange, but he says it is a mental experiment, and she gives herself be lulled into believing it. Until the working day he gets the idea of start his children.
One weekend when their baby is not there, Rhinehart gets his little son and girlfriend to play this apparently innocent game: you write six things you would like to do on a piece of paper, and the dice elects one of them. It all goes well at the start: they munch ice cream, “re going to the” zoo. Then his son becomes bolder and says that one thing he would like to do is travel beat up a son who defects him at institution.” OK, write it down ,” Rhinehart says, and “thats what” the dice rolls. The son meditates his father won’t prepare him go through with it, but his dad says:” Go onward .” The son goes to his friend’s place, makes him several times, and comes back to the house with his eyes reflecting and questions:” Where are the dice, Dad ?”
That determines Rhinehart stop and think: if his son so naturally chooses this practice of being, it is because he is not yet altogether warped by the absurd notion that it is good for children to develop a coherent persona. What if they were brought up differently, dedicating pride of place to contradiction, profusion and relentless alteration? Luke gravely studies of free-spoken his son from the dreadful cruelty of the ego and meeting him the first man altogether subject to chance. Then his wife returns and discovers what has been going on. Not feeling it funny in the least, she leaves Rhinehart and makes the children with her.
Next, it is his profession that Rhinehart vacates, after dishonour himself( on the dice’s educations) at an evening with the cream of New York psychoanalysts. With no kinfolk, operate or personal ties, he is free to move from transgression to transgression. Eventually, the day comes when the dice pushes him to do things that he had not only never dared to do, but didn’t want to do, since they were raced counter to his appetites, his libidoes, his whole personality. But that’s just it: the personality- the lamentable, inessential identity- is the enemy to be done away with, the conditioning that “youve got to” free yourself from.
Sooner or last-minute, he could not avoided writing “murder” on his list of options. When the dice requires him to get it on, Rhinehart is forced to draw up a inventory of six possible casualties, in which he courageously includes his two children. Luckily for him, he is spared that particular ordeal: the dice simply involves that he kill one of his former patients.
If you believe his autobiography, he went through with it, although sure-fire reporters indecision it. What does seem certain is that having broke his profession, his family life and his stature, Rhinehart was ready to become a prophet, and that is what he did. In these times when “the worlds largest” paradoxical cares prospered from one place of the US to the other, a leader with a dice had every chance of alluring partisans. So he proves the Middle for Experimentations in Totally Random Environments, where you enrol of your own free will but undertake not to leave until the venture is over. In time, students are expected to commit to roleplays of motley spans: you list six personality types and for 10 hours, an hour, a period, a few weeks, a few months, or a year, adopting such one that the dice decides.
Some of the partisans of dice care proceeded absurd. Others died or ended up in prison. Some, it seems, reached a state of nirvana. During their short-lived cosmo, Rhinehart’s centres became as obscene as Timothy Leary’s societies: local schools of chaos posing as serious a threat to civilisation as socialism or the satanism of Charles Manson, as the conservative newspapers had it. The death of the undertaking is shrouded in obscurity. It is said that Rhinehart was arrested by the FBI, that he spent 20 times in a psychiatric hospital. Or that he was dead. Or that he never existed at all.
Everything I have just told comes from a journal, The Dice Man, published in the US in 1971 and translated into French the following year. I was 16 when I discovered it, as a seriously apprehensive teenage with long whisker, an afghan cap and little round glasses. For a while, I walked around with a dice in my pocket, counting on it to give me the self-confidence I lacked with girls.( Not that it worked too well .) The Dice Man is the kind of book that not only satisfies books but too commits them a planned of rules for life: a manual for subversion.
It was not clear whether the book was story or autobiography, but its author, Luke Rhinehart, had the same name as his superstar and, like him, he was a psychiatrist. Harmonizing to the back cover, he lived in Majorca- apparently the ideal refuge for a prophet at the end of his halter, who has just managed to escape from his shipwrecked society of maniacs. The times elapsed, The Dice Man remained the object of a minor but persistent cult, and each time I encountered someone who had read it( almost always a pothead, and often a adherent of the I Ching ), the same questions came up: what was true in the book? Who was Luke Rhinehart? What had become of him?
After The Dice Man was put forward in discourse a little while back, I started to wonder once again what had become of Luke Rhinehart. In an hour online, of course, I learned more about Rhinehart than I had in 30 years of idle conjecture.