Luke Rhinehart

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Luke Rhinehart
Ann'smedGeorge.jpg
Born George Cockcroft
(1932-11-15) November 15, 1932 (age 85)
Albany, New York
Occupation Novelist
Nationality American
Genre Humor
Notable works The Dice Man (1971)
Adventures of Wim (1986)
The Search for the Dice Man (1993)

Signature

Luke Rhinehart (born George Powers Cockcroft November 15, 1932) is an American novelist and screenwriter, author of eleven books. He is best known for his 1971 novel The Dice Man, the story of a psychiatrist who experiments with the multiple parts of his personality by making life decisions based on the roll of a die.

The Dice Man was critically and commercially well received. In 1995, the BBC called it "one of the fifty most influential books of the last half of the twentieth century," and in 1999 Loaded magazine named it "Novel of the Century".[1][2] In 2013, the Telegraph listed it as one of the 50 great cult books of the last hundred years.[3] Although first published in 1971, the book has enjoyed a 21st-century renaissance, being published or republished in more than 60 countries and translated into 27 languages.[4]

Many of his subsequent books, within a variety of genres, have continued to explore both comic and philosophical ideas, following the precedent set by The Dice Man.

Biography[edit]

Rhinehart was born George Powers Cockcroft in Albany, New York, son of an engineer and a civil servant. He received a BA from Cornell University in 1954 and an MA from Columbia University in 1956. In 1964 he received a PhD in American literature, also from Columbia. He married his wife, Ann (who would later become a writer of two romance novels and a volume of poetry) on June 30, 1956. Together they have three children.[5] Rhinehart's brother James Cockcroft is the author of more than 20 books, mostly on Latin American history and society.

After obtaining his PhD, he went into teaching. During his years as a university professor he taught, among other things, courses in Zen and Western literature. Rhinehart had started experimenting with dice during his teens as a way to overcome procrastination, and in a lecture he floated the idea of living by the dice: the reaction was equal parts intrigue and disgust, and it was at this point he realized the idea of “dicing” could be developed into a novel.

In 1969, while Rhinehart was teaching a study abroad program on the island of Mallorca, an Englishman starting a new publishing house happened to stop at a cafe in the same village, Deià, and read a partial manuscript of The Dice Man. Rhinehart was subsequently offered an advance payment for publication. Shortly afterwards, Rhinehart was encouraged by his course Director to take an early sabbatical from his teaching duties.

He remained in Mallorca to complete the novel, after which the publisher sold the American rights to the novel for a large sum, and within a year the film rights, allowing Rhinehart to retire from teaching and become a full time novelist.[6]

He and his family spent a number of years traveling, sailing, and returning to Mallorca, including time spent on a large catamaran which became the inspiration for the boat in his novel Long Voyage Back. In the mid 1970s they returned to the United States and spent a year (1975) in a sufi commune, before moving to a large old farmhouse and former religious retreat[7] in the foothills of the Berkshires in upstate New York.

Here he has continued to write novels and maintain a relatively "reclusive" stance, which has added a sense of mystery to his identity as the "father of dicing".[7]

On 1 August 2012, at the age of 80, Rhinehart’s death was announced in an email sent to 25 friends beginning with the words “It is our pleasure to inform you that Luke Rhinehart is dead”. Reactions ranged from sorrow to gratitude and amusement. It was later revealed the “Death Letter” was instigated as a playful hoax by Rhinehart himself.[8]

In July 2018, Rhinehart appeared as a Guest of Honor at the International Art Book and Film Festival (FILAF) in Perpignan, France, after which he undertook an interview tour of Paris and London.

Rhinehart's Books[edit]

Rhinehart has written eleven books, within four main categories and styles:

  • Long comic philosophical novels: The Dice Man (1971) and Adventures of Wim (1986) (later reworked and published as Whim (2002 and 2015));
  • Shorter comic satirical novels: The Search for the Dice Man (1993), Naked Before the World (2008), Jesus Invades George: an Alternative History (2013) and Invasion (2016);
  • Conventional novels:  Long Voyage Back (1983) and Matari (1975)  (republished as White Wind, Black Rider (2008)); and
  • Luke's other books: The Book of est (1976), The Book of the Die (2000), and The Hairy Balls and the End of Civilization (2017)

Long Comic Philosophical Novels[edit]

These follow the distinctive style of his first book, The Dice Man.  From one chapter to the next Rhinehart switches between first- and third-person views and intersperses the narrative flow with (fictional) excerpts from journals, minutes of meetings, pseudo-religious texts and other sources.[9] In one case, he even quotes from a future book that he did not actually write until more than two decades later.

As the different viewpoints and sources have unique voices, the novel’s mood often changes accordingly from chapter to chapter.

Presenting these multiple fragments from multiple viewpoints together results in an unconventionally rich and complex cubist narrative structure.  It reflects what Rhinehart has said: “I have always conceived of myself as being multiple – having, you know, a dozen different selves, if not a thousand different selves, at any given moment.”[5]

The Dice Man (1971)[edit]

Rhinehart’s first novel is considered a modern cult classic. It tells the story of a psychiatrist who, dissatisfied with his limited roles and routine life, begins making life decisions based on the casting of dice. The novel is noted for its subversion and permissive attitudes in chapters concerned with controversial issues such as rape, murder and sexual experimentation.

Adventures of Wim (1986)  (reworked and published as Whim (2002 and 2015))[edit]

Adventures of Wim is an effort to create a new interpretation of the story of Wim, a Montauk boy born of a virgin mother, declared the savior of the Montauk nation, and his life quest for Ultimate Truth. The entire book is made up of sections taken from other, fictional books, and so provides a multi-faceted account of ‘one of the greatest figures in the 20th and 21st Century’.

Comic Satirical Novels[edit]

The Search for the Dice Man (1993)[edit]

A sequel set 20 years after The Dice Man, which tells the story of Luke Rhinehart’s son, Larry, who has built a highly successful and stable life, having rejected his father’s embracing of Chance.  On a quest to find his father however, Larry’s life of order and routine becomes enveloped in chaos, the legacy of his father’s work.

Naked Before the World (2008)[edit]

From a draft written at the same time as The Dice Man, this comic novel celebrates the lives of both hippies and the establishment in 1960s Mallorca through the story of Katya, an innocent Catholic art student who arrives on the island to study abroad. Katya is thrown into a world of artists, frauds, sex, drugs and the struggle to discover who she really wants to be.

Jesus Invades George: an Alternative History (2013)[edit]

This satire revolves around the chaos that would have ensued had US President George W Bush woken up one morning in 2007 possessed by the spirit of Jesus Christ. The story playfully reveals and deconstructs the hypocrisy of government and modern politics.

Invasion (2016)[edit]

Aliens invade Earth for the sole purpose of having fun. Hyper-intelligent and able to morph into multiple forms, they play games with culture and infrastructure, from computer networks and social media to corporate culture and human relationships. The resulting mayhem reveals the primitive nature of our society, and offers an alternative vision for the human race.

Conventional Novels[edit]

Matari (1975)  (republished as White Wind, Black Rider (2008))[edit]

Set in 18th Century Japan, the beautiful Matari is joined by two zen poets as she flees from her husband, a samurai lord who is giving chase with intent to murder her. A lyrical and poetic tale of love, honor and morality.

Long Voyage Back (1983)[edit]

A nautical action-adventure novel and story of human endurance and spirit. It follows a group of people sailing aboard a trimaran, and their struggle for survival as they escape the aftermath of nuclear war.

Luke’s Other Books[edit]

The Book of est (1976)[edit]

The Book of est is a fictional account of the Erhard Seminar Training (est), a personal transformation course created in 1971. Although controversial, many participants experienced powerful results through the course, including dramatic transformations in their relationships with families, their work and personal vision.  In this book, the reader is put in the place of a participant, to experience a sense of being in the training room and the spirit of what takes place there.

The Book of the Die (2000)[edit]

A “handbook of dice living” intended to help free readers from barriers to an unfulfilled life. It follows the philosophy that people must give up their illusion that a self can control life; they must let go.  A collection of proverbs, essays, cartoons, poems, scenes from movies and more form this guide to creating a more playful and unpredictable life.

The Hairy Balls and the End of Civilization (2017, to be published 2019)[edit]

A satirical look through the eyes of super-intelligent aliens at the way humans make themselves and the planet miserable. Intended to wake people up from the illusions they live with and the individualism that isolates each human both from others and from the earth itself. The book consists of hundreds of “real” definitions of common words as well as essays, adages, satirical illustrations and artworks.

Other Works by Rhinehart[edit]

Screenplays[edit]

Though best known as a novelist, Rhinehart has also written nine screenplays.

Five are based directly on his novels: The Dice Man, The Search for the Dice Man, Whim, Naked Before the World, and White Wind, Black Rider.

Two are direct Dice Man sequels featuring the original Luke Rhinehart character: The Dice Lady[10] (co-written with Peter Forbes) and Last Roll of the Die (co-written with Nick Mead).

Two other screenplays, Mawson and Picton's Chance, are original concepts.

Album Release[edit]

In 2018 the album The Dice Man Speaks, by Luke Rhinehart and Sputnik Weasel was released. 

It features spoken word passages by Rhinehart over acoustic and electronic musical pieces by Weasel.[11]

Influence[edit]

A number of musicians, writers, artists and commercial ventures have been partially or wholly inspired by the writings of Luke Rhinehart.

Art which exploits the principle of chance or randomness is called aleatoricism, and features in a number of these projects.

Theatre, TV and Broadcast[edit]

Interest in Luke's books and dicing projects underwent a resurgence after the broadcast on C4 in the UK of Diceworld (1999, dir: Paul Wilmshurst), a 50-minute documentary about Luke and some of the people influenced by his novels.[12] This resurgence has continued unabated to this day.

Another documentary was produced in 2004, a collaboration between Rhinehart and director Nick Mead, Dice Life: The Random Mind of Luke Rhinehart.

Inspired by The Dice Man and written by Paul Lucas, the play The Dice House was premiered in the UK in 2001 and was staged at the Arts Theatre in London's West End in 2004.[13][14]

Four seasons of a TV travel series called The Diceman were made between 1998 and 2000 by the Discovery Channel. The destinations and activities of the participants were determined by the roll of a die.[15][16]

Other Projects[edit]

Journalist Ben Marshall spent two years from 1998 to 2000 experimenting with being a Dice Man and reporting his experiences in Loaded magazine. Loaded subsequently named Luke Rhinehart as novelist of the century.[17][18]

Larnie Reid Fox popularised the idea of the DiceWalk, students of psychogeography having already pioneered the art or science of random or whimsical excursions.[19]

Murder mystery author Terry Mitchell often uses characters who throw dice to make decisions and in his own personal life created the dice road trip, dicing to eat and The Sacred Journey which uses dice in various books to lead to spiritual life changes.

Music[edit]

Luke Rhinehart and The Dice Man have influenced or been referenced in several songs:

Other music connections:

  • "The Dice Man" is an alias used by Richard D. James, the Aphex Twin
  • "The Diceman" is the alias used for certain projects of Colin James (Jolly James, Gregg Retch, formerly of Meat Beat Manifesto)

Commercial ventures[edit]

The brewers of Rolling Rock pale lager launched a series of adverts based around the Dice Man theme,[20] and even a 'Dice Life' website, now defunct.

In the 1980s, the UK comic 2000 AD published several Gamebook magazines under the name Dice Man.[21]

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Loaded Magazine - The Early Years". funtrivia.com. Archived from the original on 2011-10-31.[unreliable source?]
  2. ^ "Author - HarperCollins UK". harpercollins.co.uk. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  3. ^ Reporters, Telegraph (8 July 2015). "50 best cult books". Retrieved 5 June 2018 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  4. ^ Press, Permuted. "Luke Rhinehart". permutedpress.com. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  5. ^ a b Gold, Tanya (4 March 2017). "Three days with The Dice Man: 'I never wrote for money or fame'". the Guardian. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  6. ^ "ON WRITING THE DICE MAN". www.lukerhinehart.com. Archived from the original on 2017-03-22.
  7. ^ a b "Dicing with death". The Guardian. 14 June 1999. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  8. ^ Steve Boggan (2013-01-12). "In search of The Dice Man: An extraordinary journey to track down a cult author". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  9. ^ "Luke Rhinehart – HILOBROW". hilobrow.com. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  10. ^ "DICELADY by Luke Rhinehart". www.lukerhinehart.com. Archived from the original on 2014-07-19.
  11. ^ "Dice Man Records". Dice Man Records. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  12. ^ "Diceworld (1999) (TV)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  13. ^ Rhoda Koenig (2004-02-16). "The Dice House, Arts Theatre London - Reviews - Theatre & Dance". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  14. ^ "The Dice House – theatre review | Metro News". Metro.co.uk. 2002-08-12. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  15. ^ "The Diceman (1998–2002)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  16. ^ "The Diceman". The Diceman. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  17. ^ "Dicing with death | Media". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  18. ^ "The dice man cometh". Telegraph. 2004-02-09. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  19. ^ Tudor, Silke (2003-05-28). "Life, Cubed | Night Crawler | San Francisco | San Francisco News and Events". SF Weekly. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  20. ^ "Magazine Advert | Rolling Rock Beer | 1990s". The Advertising Archives. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  21. ^ "BARNEY - prog zone". 2000ad.org. 1986-02-01. Retrieved 2014-08-05.

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