BOOK REVIEW: THE DICE MAN by Luke Rhinehart
Would you live your life by chance? Would you obey what a die told you to do unconditionally? Wouldn’t this be the only way to experience absolute freedom? This is what George Cockcroft alias Luke Rhinehart’s novel The Dice Man is about.
This novel, which remains unknown in Europe has become one of the classics of American modern literature. It was recognized by BBC as “one of the 50 most influential books of the 20th century” for its incredibly innovative and thrilling philosophy.
Georges Cockcroft is a very random man, he worked on his life as he would work on a novel, confusing the medias with various information, making it hard to distinguish truth from fiction. His style has the signature of the early 70s with a bare writing and a tendency to fall into excess and vulgarity with intelligence. You could easily swap a shot of vodka for a chapter of this book and get the same impression of getting pure concentrated intensity.
The Dice Man is written to make the reader lose ground on how much is to be believed, who is mad, who is sane; the fact that it is written as an autobiography is of course not helping.
In the novel, Luke is a brilliant psychiatrist, disgusted by his work and irrevocably bored; he gets the feeling that rather than helping his patient, he just makes them go from a state of explicit madness to a tolerant boredom. He decides therefore to create the dice-life and dice-therapy. The concept is of the simplest, remember the times you draw the short straw to make a decision? Well we get a quite similar idea. The dice-man or woman assimilates a face of his die with a decision, an action or personality, throws it and obeys to the die’s “decision”.
This game helps him to develop an interesting theory that men have multiple personalities and impulses, but because of the necessity of living in society, men refrain those impulses in order to create a single coherent appearance. And so here we remain frustrated, and imprisoned in our routines.
Sensitive readers might want to let the book remain closed on the shelf. As this brilliant piece of work is full of provocations ready to rock the boat of socially accepted norms and beliefs.