“You ever heard of this?” This reporter’s friend, Billy Possibility, pointed at one of the words in a list of topics in his copy of The Fortean Times.
“it’s pronounced dice living. They just made it one word.”
“Diceliving. What’s that?”
Possibility explained diceliving was the term describing the philosophy of moving through life using dice to decide what next, akin to bibliomancy, where books are opened to random passages for occult guidance, all which sort of thing we were making a serious study of then, as two young Denver writers familiarizing ourselves with our forebears in the art of discernment. This was several years ago. Rhinehart’s “art of the unexpected” also has much in common with zetetic thinking (skepticism of the established canon of bias, including one’s own) which this reporter discovered years later. He makes mention of the personal connection here because Possibility himself asked, “Reading anything lately?” just the other day at the variety show at Mutiny, and this reporter recommended Luke Rhinehart’s The Dice Man. Neither he nor his interlocutor seemed aware of the irony when it happened, though at least one of the two has remembered it since.
In his novel, a smash in the seventies when it came out but largely unheard of today, Rhinehart narrates his devolution—better said, his polyvolution—from a conventional, formeally rigid psychotherapist to The Dice man—a revolutionary type of human capable of unlimited personalities, roles, and behaviors due to his reliance on Chance as an Absolute Deity. Despite his understanding of the momentous implications of his practice on the traditional behavior of human societies—where each members is encouraged to strive for distinction and refine and further polish individuality—Rhinehart at first limits himself to what may be considered shallow or selfish objectives—sex with his best friend’s wife, abandoning his family, and so on—and wrestles with his own hypocrisy, while at the same time feeling himself devoutly committed to the Lord God Chance (who, unfortunately—or not—he has already—perhaps—betrayed by using words like “forever”—or maybe he can roll again and change it?). Readers are hooked by the outlandish premise regardless of ability to identify with the novel’s protagonist.
The Dice Man is semi-autobiographical, it even has a sequel (to be reviewed here soon), written from the perspective of (narrated by) Rhinehart’s abandoned son, Larry, called The Search For the Dice Man. That said, this reporter discovered a series of videos about Rhinehart’s effect on social curriculum on YouTube whereI learned the author’s true name is George Cockcroft, which would seem to put the series veracity to some question, were it not for The Great God Chance, and a paper this reporter wrote called “Selves and Alter-Selves: Truth and Fiction in Autobiography.” I haven’t tried it off the page yet. have you?