The long read: A sought for the mysterious writer of a counterculture classic led to someone else alone. Or did it?
Toward the end of the 1960 s, Luke Rhinehart worked as a psychoanalyst in New York and was accepted potent. He lives in a quite apartment with a neat thought. He performed yoga, read books on Zen, dreamed vaguely of joining a commune but did not dare. As a healer, he was resolutely nondirective. If a patient who still had not lost his virginity was beset by sadistic inclinations and said on Rhinehart’s couch that he would like to rape and kill a little girl, his professional ethics pressured him to repeat with a allay singer:” You’d like to abuse and kill a little girl ?” No judgment. But what he wanted to tell you was:” Well, is moving forward, then! If what actually 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 preoccupied him more and more. His own imaginations 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 partner of his colleague Jake Ecstein, who lived across the landing. But as a faithful husband, he gave the idea simmer away in the back of his mind.
So life ploddings on, calm and grim, until one nighttime after a dinner party, when he has had a little too much to booze. Rhinehart finds a dice lying on the carpet, a banal playing dice, and gets the idea of throwing it and playing on its rules. He supposed to say to himself:” If it property on a number from two to six, I’ll do what I would have done regardles: bring 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 certainly want to do: I know Arlene’s at home alone tonight, so I’ll go across the hall, knock on her door and sleep with her .”
The dice grounds on one. Rhinehart hesitates, feeling vaguely that he is standing on a threshold: if he crosses it, his life could change. But it is not his decision, it is the dice’s, so he obeys. Arlene opens the door in a negligee; she is stunned but not put out. When Rhinehart comes back home two exceedingly pleasant hours later, he realises that he has changed. He “ve done something” he wouldn’t commonly do.
From now on, he ever consults the dice. Since it has six sides, he imparts it six options. The first is to do what he has always done. The five others depart more or less decidedly from this number. Once it has been subjected to the dice, even the most anodyne choice- that of a cinema, a eatery- opens a immense display of possibilities for putting your procedure behind you.
His selects soon become more impudent. Going somewhere he would never get, getting to know people he would otherwise never gratify. He pushes his patients to leave their families and jobs, to change their political and sex orientations. 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 coffee, jogging in a tuxedo, going to work in shorts, pissing in the flowerpots, treading backward, sleeping under his bunked. His wife finds him strange, but he says it is a mental venture, and she makes herself be lulled into believing it. Until the working day he gets the idea of initiate his children.
One weekend when their mom is not there, Rhinehart goes his little boy and girl to play this apparently innocent game: you write six things he wishes to do on a piece of paper, and the dice prefers one of them. It all goes well at the start: they chew ice cream, go to the zoo. Then his son becomes bolder and says that one thing he would like to do is get beat up a boy who imperfections him at institution.” OK, write it down ,” Rhinehart says, and “thats what” the dice buns. The son anticipates “his fathers” won’t oblige him go through with it, but his papa says:” Go onward .” The boy goes to his friend’s place, punches him several times, and comes back to the house with his eyes glowing and questions:” Where are the dice, Dad ?”
That realise Rhinehart stop and think: if his son so naturally borrows this course of being, it is because he is not yet wholly warped by the absurd notion that it is good for children to develop a coherent reputation. What if they were brought up differently, returning pride of place to contradiction, multiplicity and relentless change? Luke seriously belief of free-spoken his son from the dreadful oppression of the ego and becoming him the first man solely subject to chance. Then his wife returns and discovers what has been going on. Not knowing it funny in the least, she leaves Rhinehart and takes the children with her.
Next, it is his profession that Rhinehart abandons, after disgrace himself( on the dice’s educations) at an night with the ointment of New York psychoanalysts. With no clas, act 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 flowed counter to his smells, his passions, his whole personality. But that’s just it: the personality- the dismal, inessential personality- is the enemy to be done away with, the conditioning that you have to free yourself from.
Sooner or later, he could not forestalled writing “murder” on his listing of options. When the dice tells him to do it, Rhinehart is forced to draw up a listing of six potential martyrs, in which he courageously includes his two children. Luckily for him, he is spared that particular ordeal: the dice simply necessitates that he kill one of his former patients.
If you believe his autobiography, he went through with it, although particular commentators incredulity it. What seems so particular is that having broke his vocation, his family life and his honour, Rhinehart was ready to become a prophet, and that is what he did. In these years when “the worlds largest” paradoxical cares prospered from one slope of the US to the other, a leader with a dice had every chance of attracting partisans. So he launches the Core for Experimentations in Totally Random Environments, where you enrol of your own free will but initiate not to leave until the venture is over. In time, students are expected to commit to roleplays of going durations: you list six personality types and for 10 times, an hour, a era, a week, a few months, or a year, adopting such one that the dice decides.
Some of the admirers of dice regiman went crazed. Others died or ended up in prison. Some, it seems, reached a state of nirvana. During their short life, Rhinehart’s centres became as unseemly as Timothy Leary’s parishes: a school of chaos posing as serious a threat to civilisation as socialism or the satanism of Charles Manson, as the republican newspapers had it. The end of the adventure is shrouded in obscurity. It is said that Rhinehart was arrested by the FBI, that “hes spent” 20 times in a psychiatric hospital. Or that he died. Or that he never existed at all.
Everything I have just told comes from a book, 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 atrociously timid adolescent with long fuzz, an afghan coat and little round glass. For a while, I went around with a dice in my pocket, counting on it to give me the self-confidence I scarcity with girls.( Not that it worked too well .) The Dice Man is the various kinds of notebook that not only delights readers but also commits them a prepare 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 hero and, like him, he was a psychiatrist. Harmonizing to the back cover, he lived in Majorca- seemingly the ideal refuge for a oracle at the end of his tether, who has just managed to escape from his shipwrecked parish of madmen. The times transferred, The Dice Man is still is the subject of a minor but persistent cult, and each time I converged someone who had read it( almost always a pothead, and often a admirer 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 came up in communication a bit 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.