Book of the Die

Book of the Die

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by Luke Rhinehart

With his cult classic The Dice Man, Luke Rhinehart offered the world a provocative antidote to dilemmas of choice and modern ennui: dice living-making life-changing decisions on a roll of the dice. Now, with his fiction inspiring devotees of the die around the world, Rhinehart has written The Book of the Die-a bible and manual for the dice life.See more details below


With his cult classic The Dice Man, Luke Rhinehart offered the world a provocative antidote to dilemmas of choice and modern ennui: dice living-making life-changing decisions on a roll of the dice. Now, with his fiction inspiring devotees of the die around the world, Rhinehart has written The Book of the Die-a bible and manual for the dice life. Rhinehart asks: If you're bored, why not roll the dice and-whether it's a change of locale, wardrobe or career-be liberated by chance?

The Book of the Die is both an invaluable companion for anyone who has ever thought about letting chance call the shots and a more than just amusing read for those who are curious. As he muses wryly on a life of dicing, Rhinehart turns conventional notions of modern living on their head with remarkable comic eloquence, moving swiftly through parables, parodies and dialogues that keep the book as unpredictable as a tumble of the dice. Challenging, clever and always startling, The Book of the Die includes practical instructions for dice living, daring readers to shake up their lives and take chances they never would have imagined. Is this the ultimate risk? Or is it a practical way to deal with the staggering life decisions we all face?

"A blackly comic amusement park of a book, replete with vertiginous roller coaster rides of the spirit, feverish omnisexual trios through the tunnel of love, and crazy images reflected in the distorting funhouse mirrors of the mind." (Time)

"A fine piece of fiction . . . touching, ingenious and beautifully comic." (Anthony Burgess)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The author of the 1960s cult classic The Dice Man has written a self-help companion volume to the underground novel. Luke Rhinehart's The Book of the Die: A Handbook of Dice Living features ancient proverbs, quotations from Asian philosophers, biblical parables and his own Eastern-influenced sketches and aphorisms, all championing a spontaneous, impulsive lifestyle ruled at least in part by chance rather than social rules and expectations. Among the motley, lighthearted offerings is the running story of a mythic character called Whim, who learns to lead a life of the die, as well as suggested dice games for readers that promote spiritual rather than financial growth. (Apr. 29) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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Overlook Press, The
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7.76(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.07(d)

Meet the Author

Luke Rhinehart is the international bestselling author of five novels: The Dice Man, Matari, Long Voyage Back, Adventures of Wim, and Search for the Dice Man.

Read an Excerpt

The Book of the Die
By Luke Rhinehart


Copyright © 2000 Luke Rhinehart.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 1-58567-237-8


What is life but man's maddening efforts to live a full life in chains.


Anybody can be anybody.


The self is one of mankind's ways of making life more difficult. In our effort to find and be at one with some imaginary center, we resist our health — our variety, our flexibility, our ability to change. We seek changeless-ness in a constantly changing world, when the glory of life lies in change.

What if the development of a sense of self is normal and natural, but is neither inevitable nor desirable? What if it represents a psychological appendix: a useless, anachronistic pain in the side? — or, like the mastodon's huge tusks: a heavy, useless and ultimately self-destructive burden? What if the sense of being someone represents an evolutionary error as disastrous to the further development of a more complex creature as was the shell for snails and turtles


* The normal personality consists of an accumulation of habits, attitudes and aspirations that lay claim to the title of character. We form theseconsistencies because our society rewards us for most of them and gets upset when we deviate from them too far or too often. By the age of thirty we've all become reasonably dependable machines, efficient for some operations, inefficient for others, but very limited in the tasks we can perform. It is a happy machine if it works in harmony with the other machines, but to do this the machine personality must not change. A mobile, eccentric or random machine would throw the super-machine called society out of whack. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds but is quite basic to the development of selves and society.

Personal identification — name, beliefs, religion, family, possessions, and personal history — all are anchors thrown into the sea of life to try to control the flow. They are symptoms of fear. They represent grasping for certainty in an uncertain world; consistency in an inconsistent flow; stability within unstable societies; meaning in a meaningless universe.

Seers and mystics have often urged us to be detached, grasp nothing, be free of ego. Some imply an actual withdrawal from activity, but the best mean that we should enter into each activity with all our might, to exert our last ounce of energy to win the race, but wander away when the laurel wreath is awarded.

A beautiful statue Of the hardest granite looms With great dignity in the middle Of the garden. Ah ... How the butterflies dance Around the unseeing eyes.

We can be statues and impress people or be butterflies and dance. But we can't be both. If we choose to impress people then we are turning part of ourselves into stone — the part that we think impresses. Statues are rather weak at dancing, and anyone not capable of chance and change will no longer be able to dance.

WHIM COMMENTS: Hey, how about becoming the statue of a butterfly!? Not too cool, I guess.

Place something on a pedestal and you turn it into stone.

* The tendency of every living creature is homeostatic — it wants to stabilize its relation to its environment at the simplest level possible. The creation of the self is part of this tendency.

The tendency of chance, on the other hand, is to create instability and complexity.

Living forms evolve through chance, through mutations — scientific terminology for the play of chance. Mutations are sudden, "unexplained" altered forms of any given species. They are accidents. All living creatures — it is hardly a surprise to us — evolve through accident. It is the purpose of dicing to let chance into our lives so that we, like the species, may evolve.

With dicing we try to let go of our attachments to attitudes and beliefs and behavior patterns. We do this not to get at some central core of identity but rather to make room for new ones. Humans can only exist with a variety of contradictory aspirations and ideas. The error most men and most religions make is to try to force the individual into a singleness — to create One from the many. Our goal is different — to create more from the many.

Mystics who claim unity with the ALLness are in effect announcing their embrace of multiplicity, for if you are at one with everything then you are multiple. However, those who claim to have experienced a single true Self or Reality or God separate from other false entities are creating a struggle and a seriousness which is central to the human sickness. If there are authentic selves and false selves then it is clearly a valuable goal to seek the true self and kill off the false; and life is a serious business. But if all selves are illusions then we can relax: we'll never have any truer self than we have at any given moment.


In this infinity of energy I, A single ion, slip from pole to pole Unregistered. In this unending space I, A speck, resume unseen my solitary way. In this eternal toll of hours I, A millisecond, tick my finite single tick And disappear. In the great gasp of God I Am swallowed up, an only atom of air Thrust through the mighty mouth and Rushed into the cavernous lungs and Sucked into the hot, roaring flood Of God's great blood, ripped Through the arteries and hurled Through narrow streams To feed at last a single cell Of bone in the great I AM. God grins.

The healthy human being aims not for unity but for multiplicity, aims not for a stable self marching consistently through a hostile world, but an ever-expanding variety of selves wandering playfully through a world of our own creation.

The self is a dead skin which keeps new beings from being born. Shed it.

We are not ourselves; actually there is nothing we can call a "self" anymore; we are many-fold, we have as many selves as there are groups to which we belong. The neurotic has overtly a disease from which everybody is suffering. — J. H. VAN DEN BERG


It's not clear exactly when Whim began referring to himself as "we" and "us," but soon enough it led to his being forced to visit a psychiatrist.

"Why do you call yourself `we,'" the psychiatrist asked.

"Because we are," said Whim.

"I only see one of you," said the psychiatrist.

"We only operate one at a time and use the same body."

"Show me another of you."

"Here I am."

"Who are you now?"

"Whim, we of many chances."

"But which Whim?" insisted the psychiatrist.

"Here today, gone tomorrow."

The psychiatrist had been scribbling frantically but he now stopped.

"So you feel you have many personalities," he commented cautiously.

"Yes, we do," said Whim cheerfully.

"And do the voices of these other personalities sometimes speak to you?"

"We talk to each other sometimes."

"And do some of your other selves frighten you?" asked the psychiatrist, sensing a breakthrough.

"Of course not," said Whim. "We're friends."

"Which of your selves do you like the best?"


"Who's `me'?"

"Meherenow," said Whim.

"What's meherenow like?"

"He's like himtherethen a few seconds ago. Now the one I like best is the new meherenow."

"I see," said the psychiatrist, his face twitching slightly. "Don't you feel any continuity between your consecutive selves?"

"Oh, sure," said Whim. "There are family resemblances."

"But what do you want to do with your life?"

"Whose life?"

"The lives of yourselves," answered the psychiatrist, not believing he was having this conversation.

"Oh, we all have different plans," said Whim.

"Well, what determines which one of you acts at any given moment?" the psychiatrist asked.

Whim smiled.

"Ignorance and chance," he replied.

How many people have you been today?

* To go from the cage of a single self to the amusement park of multiple living, we need to exercise: to play games which break down our self-imposed limitations and uncover new selves, experiences and talents.

Of course, the killing of the self is for most of us as difficult as physical suicide, although rather more rewarding. The challenge to turn over decision-making to chance rather than one's "self" is a challenge that most people can't meet. Such a surrender of will is irrational! It's absurd! But most of the consistencies we find ourselves locked into are equally irrational and absurd — we just don't notice. But others notice. We see others, even our friends, as filled with the most absurd opinions, habits, interests, behaviour patterns, but as part of our unconscious social agreement we pretend we don't see them that way. Everyone tacitly agrees to overlook their neighbor's insanities. Unless he begins choosing his insanities by dice rather than "free will." Then we'll talk about him.

One dicer reported that when she first began making her decisions with dice she kept her use of chance secret. She noticed that although people thought she was behaving rather erratically they went out of their way to find rational reasons why she suddenly decided to get her hair dyed, have her nipples pierced, fly to Houston for a weekend, pick up a guy at a bar — all things inconsistent with the person her friends had previously thought her to be.

Then the dice told her to tell them that she had begun making decisions with chance. Suddenly actions that were actually consistent with her earlier self seemed to her friends to be bizarre, insane. Now if she went to a movie at random, even a movie she would have previously wanted to see, they were annoyed with her. Now if she dropped a boyfriend and announced it was a dice decision, some friends berated her, even though they had previously been urging her to drop the same guy. The moral is: we are allowed to make stupid decisions on our own but as soon as we make them by letting dice choose a few things, we are insane.


Once a lion was born in New York City's Bronx zoo. Until he was four years old he lived in cages in the zoo. When some of the older lions talked about something called "freedom" he thought they were talking about living in the big cage — the one with rocks and a pool — rather than the small one, where he fed and slept.

Then the zoo sent him in a cage to Kenya for certain scientific experiments and there, by chance, the lion escaped and returned to the jungle. Only then did he realize how inhibited, constrained, circumscribed and caged he had been all his life. He had never realized how open and huge the world was. Now, in the jungle, he learned how he was meant to live. He realized his full, natural spontaneous life. At last he knew what the older lions in the zoo had meant by freedom.

Most of us have been brought up in a cage: the cage of the self. Until we have experienced freedom from this cage we won't know what those who have escaped are talking about. But perhaps some strange day the bars around you will melt and the world will suddenly seem immense, and yourselves immense enough to fill it. At that moment you'll laugh at those wax bars that you had remained behind for years — when all you had to do was push them aside and walk flee.

Most of us live life in a daze. Every morning we retrace our footsteps, sigh the same sighs, moan the same moans and strike another day of our lives off the calendar. Habit forms a dusty crust on our daily schedule.

It seems impossible to break out. But the dice are uncontrollable: Chance, not man, is their master. They will punch through to freedom, unfreeze synapses, road-test fantasies. They disable the logical naysayer. They will allow us to stop shaking our heads and start nodding, stop frowning and start smiling, stop standing and start moving.

The dice are all about new possibilities. Without dice each today is like every other day. But just one die equals six different todays, two are thirty-six, and the world explodes in possibilities.

There's a part of you that's hiding under the "you" that everybody else knows. What do you really want? Make up six options and think about them for a while. Cross out the impossible, the unobtainable and the illegal, and you'll start to see the you that you've forgotten, the you that you've neglected, the you that you've given up on. Roll the dice and let that you ride again.

If you always just do what you think you can do, you'll never do what you could do, what you dream of doing. Dice make dreams and daily life equally likely. And when that happens, the soul is changed forever.

— Matthew Davidge

It's sometimes said that it's impossible for a human to live without developing a firm and consistent sense of self, and that those dice-people who seem to be functioning happily may be doing so because they have, whether they know it or not, a firm sense of themselves as children of chance. "The idea of being a kind of random multiple man is an idea of oneself," said one commentator, "and if held firmly may represent a stable self even if the actions of this stable self are multiple and inconsistent."

Sounds reasonable. However, if we become attached to the idea of being a dice-person then we guarantee that we are not one. It is precisely against the idea of believing we are someone that our methods are aimed. A self or "I" can certainly be said to exist at any given moment but the wise man makes no claim of permanence for any of his "I"s.

A Diemaster once said: "All of my dieciples are good dice-persons except Whim. He alone is no one."

Die-ing eliminates internal conflicts by eliminating the illusion that some mes are more real, more important or morally superior to others. We assume that there is no real me; we are nothing but a collection of fakes, some of whom are under the illusion they are more real than others. There are layers of self-deception which wise men peel and peel until at last they stand face to face with the Ultimate: layer upon layer of further self-deception.

The sage rips off mask after mask until at last he is free of his compulsion to rip off masks. He begins instead to create mask after mask, joyfully and without guilt. He knows that no matter how many masks he ripped off he was still in self-deception; he knows that no matter how many new masks he now adds he is being utterly honest.

Scoop up water and the moon is in your hands, Pick up dice and hold green stars. Drop them, and watch the lightning strike.

* Die-ing permits us to let go of our "true self" and let Chance choose from among the optional aspirations we are willing to risk expressing. Soon we come to realize that our problems and conflicts are in some sense not ours to worry about: that no matter how hard we try, no "I" can ever have any control.

In giving up trying to control life through an illusory self, one feels liberated, ecstatic, stoned. It's something like newly-born Christians giving up their souls to Christ or God, or the Zen student or Taoist surrendering to the Tao. In all these cases the ego-control game is abandoned and one surrenders to a force which is experienced as being outside oneself.


Excerpted from The Book of the Die by Luke Rhinehart. Copyright © 2000 by Luke Rhinehart. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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