Luke Rheinhart

The Diceman

To A. J. M. Without any of whom, no Book.

In the beginning was Chance, and Chance was with God and Chance was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Chance and without him not anything made that was made. In Chance was life and the life was the light of men.

There was a man sent by Chance, whose name was Luke. The sere came for a witness, to bear witness of Whim, that all men through him might believe. He was not Chance, but was sent to bear witness of Chance. That was the true Accident, that randomizes every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of Chance, even to them that believe accidentally, they which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of men, but of Chance. And Chance was made flesh (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Great Fickle Father), and he dwelt among us, full of chaos, and falsehood and whim.

from The Book of the Die


`The style is the man,' once said Richard Nixon and devoted his life to boring his readers.

What to do if there is no single man? No single style? Should the style vary as the man writing the autobiography varies, or as the past man he writes about varied? Literary critics would insist that the style of a chapter must correspond to the man whose life is being dramatized: a quite rational injunction, one that ought therefore to be repeatedly disobeyed. The comic life, portrayed as high tragedy, everyday events being described by a Madman, a man in love described by a scientist. So. Let us have no more quibbles about style. If style and subject matter happen to congeal in any of these chapters it is a lucky accident, not, we may hope, soon to be repeated.

A cunning chaos: that is what my autobiography shall be. I shall make my order chronological; an innovation dared these days by few. But my style shall be random, with the wisdom of the Dice. I shall sulk and soar, extol and sneer. I shall shift from first person to third person: I shall use first-person omniscient, a mode of narrative generally reserved for Another. When distortions and digressions occur to me in my life's history I shall embrace them, for a well-told lie is a gift of the gods. But the realities of the Dice Man's life are more entertaining than my most inspired fictions: reality will dominate for its entertainment value.

I tell my life's story for that humble reason which has inspired every user of the form: to prove to the world I am a great man. I shall fail, of course, like the others. `To be great is to be misunderstood,' Elvis Presley once said, and no one can refute him.

I tell of a man's instinctive attempt to fulfil himself in a new way and I will be judged insane. So be it. Were it otherwise, I would know I had failed.

We are not ourselves; actually there is nothing we can call a `self' any more; we are manifold, we have as many selves there are groups to which we belong. . The neurotic has overtly a disease from which everybody is suffering. J. H. VAN DEN Berg

My aim is to bring about a psychic state in which my patient begins to experiment with his own nature - a state of fluidity change and growth, in which there is no longer anything eternally fixed and hopelessly petrified. - CARL JUNG

The torch of chaos and doubt - this is what the sage steers by. - CHUANG-TZU

I am Zarathustra the godless: I still cook every chance in my pot. -NIETZSCHE

Anybody can be anybody. - THE DICE MAN

Chapter One

I am a large man, with big butcher's hands, great oak thighs, rock-jawed head, and massive, thick-lens glasses. I'm six foot four and weigh close to two hundred and thirty pounds; I look like Clark Kent, except that when I take off my business suit I am barely faster than my wife, only slightly more powerful than men half my size, and leap buildings not at all, no matter how many leaps I'm given.

As an athlete I am exceptionally mediocre in all major sports and in several minor ones. I play daring and disastrous poker and cautious and competent stock market. I married a pretty former cheerleader and rock-and- roll singer and have two lovely, non-neurotic and abnormal children. I am deeply religious, have written the lovely first-rate pornographic novel, Naked Before the World, and am not now nor have I ever been Jewish.

I realize that it's your job as a reader to try to create a credible consistent pattern out of all this, but I'm afraid I must add that I am normally atheistic, have given away at random thousands of dollars, have been a sporadic revolutionary against the governments of the United States, New York City, the Bronx and Scarsdale, and am still a card-carrying member of the Republican Party. I am the creator, as most of you know, of those nefarious Dice Centers for experiments in human behavior which has been described by the Journal of Abnormal Psychology as `outrageous,' `unethical,' and `informative'; by The New York Times as `incredibly misguided and corrupt'; by Time magazine as `sewers'; and by the Evergreen Review as `brilliant and fun.'

I have been a devoted husband, multiple adulterer and experimental homosexual; an able, highly praised analyst, and the only one ever dismissed from both the Psychiatrists Association of New York (PANY) and from the American Medical Association (for `ill-considered activities' and `probable incompetence'). I am admired and praised by thousands of dicepeople throughout the nation but have twice been a patient in a mental institution, once been in jail, and am currently a fugitive, which I hope to remain, Die willing, at least until I have completed this 430 page autobiography.

My primary profession has been psychiatry. My passion, both as psychiatrist and as Dice Man, has been to human personality. Mine. Others. Everyone's. To give to men a sense of freedom, exhilaration, joy. To restore to life the same shock of experience we have when bare toes first feel the earth at dawn and we see the sun split through the mountain trees like horizontal lightning; when a girl first lifts her lips to be kissed; when an idea suddenly springs full-blown into the mind, reorganizing in an instant the experience of a lifetime.

Life is islands of ecstasy in an ocean of ennui, and after the age of thirty land is seldom seen. At best we wander from one much-worn sandbar to the next, soon familiar with each grain of sand we see.

When I raised the `problem' with my colleagues, I was assured that the withering away of joy was as natural to normal man as the decaying of his flesh and based on much the same physiological changes. The purchase of psychology, they reminded me, was to decrease misery; increase productivity, relate the individual to his society, and help him to see and accept himself. Not to alter necessarily the habits, values and interests of the self, but to see them without idealization and to accept them as they are.

It had always seemed to me a quite obvious and desirable goal for therapy but, after having been `successfully' analyzed and after having lived in moderate happiness with moderate success with an average wife and family for seven years, I found suddenly, around my thirty-second birthday, that I wanted to kill myself. And to kill several other people too.

I took long walks over the Queensborough Bridge and brooded down at the water. I reread Camas on suicide as the logical choice in an absurd world. On subway platforms I always stood three inches from the edge, and swayed. On Monday mornings I would stare at the bottle of strychnine on my cabinet shelf. I would daydream for hours of nuclear holocausts searing the streets of Manhattan clean, of steamrollers accidentally flattening my wife, of taxis taking my rival Dr. Ecstein off into the East River, of a teen-age baby-sitter of ours shrieking in agony as I plowed away at her virgin soil.

Now the desire to kill oneself and to assassinate, poison, obliterate or rape others is generally considered in the psychiatric profession as `unhealthy.' Bad. Evil. More accurately, sin. When you have the desire to kill yourself, you are supposed to see and `accept it,' but not, for Christ's sake, to kill yourself. If you desire to have carnal

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