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
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 knowledge of a helpless teenybopper, you are supposed to accept your lust, and not lay a finger on even her big toe. If you hate your father, fine but don't slug the bastard with a bat. Understand yourself, accept yourself, but do not be yourself.
It is a conservative doctrine, guaranteed to help the patient avoid violent, passionate and unusual acts and to permit him a prolonged, respectable life of moderate misery. In fact, it is a doctrine aimed at making everyone live like a psychotherapist. The thought nauseated me.
These trivial insights actually began to form in the weeks following my first unexplained plunge into depression, a depression ostensibly produced by a long writing block on my `book,' but actually part of a general constitution of the soul that had been a long time building up. I remember sitting at my big oak desk after breakfast each morning before my first appointment reviewing my past accomplishments and future hopes with a feeling of scorn. I would take off my glasses end, reacting to both my thoughts and the surrealistic haze which became my visual world without my glasses, I would intone dramatically, `Blind! Blind! Blind!' and bang my boxing glove-sized fist down on the desk with a dramatic crash.
I had been a brilliant student throughout my educational career, piling up academic honors like my son Larry collects bubble-gum baseball cards. While still in medical school I published my first article on therapy, a well-received trifle called The Physiology of Neurotic Tension.'
As I sat at my desk, all articles I had ever published seemed absolutely as good as other men's articles: blah. My successes with patients seemed identical to those of my colleagues: insignificant. The most I had come to hope for was to free a patient from anxiety and conflict: to alter him from a life of tormented stagnation to one of complacent stagnation. If my patients had untapped creativity or inventiveness or drive, my methods of analysis had failed to dig them out. Psychoanalysis seemed an expensive, slow working, unreliable tranquilizer. If LSD were really to do what Alpert and Leary claimed for it, all psychiatrists would be out of a job overnight. The thought pleased me.
In the midst of my cynicism I would occasionally daydream of the future. My hopes? To excel in all that I had been doing in the past: to write widely acclaimed articles and books; to raise my children so they might avoid the mistakes I had made; to meet some Technicolor woman with whom I would become soul-mate for life. Unfortunately, the thought that these dreams might all be fulfilled plunged me into despair.
I was caught in a bind. On the one hand I was bored and dissatisfied with my life and myself as they had been for the past decade; on the other, no conceivable change seemed preferable. I was too old to believe that lounging on the shores of Tahiti, becoming a wealthy television personality, being buddy buddy with Erich Fromm, Teddy Kennedy or Bob Dylan, or entertaining Sophia Loren and Raquel Welch in the same bed for a month or so would change anything. No matter how I twisted or turned there seemed to be an anchor in my chest which held me fast, the long line leaning out against the slant of sea taut and trim, as if it were cleated fast into the rock of the earth's vast core. It held me locked, and when a storm of boredom and bitterness blew in I would plunge and- leap against the line's rough-clutching knot to be away, to fly before the wind, but the knot grew tight, the anchor, only dug the deeper in my chest; I stayed. The burden of my self seemed inevitable and eternal.
My colleagues, and even myself, mumbling coyly by our couches, all asserted that my problem was absolutely normal I hated myself and the world because I had failed to face and accept the limitations of my self and of life. In literature this refusal is called romanticism; in psychology, neurosis. The assumption is that a limited and bored self is the unavoidable, all-embracing norm. And I was beginning to agree until, after a few months of wallowing in depression (I furtively had purchased a .38 revolver and nine cartridges), I came washing up on the shore of Zen.
For fifteen years I had been leading a rather ambitious, driving, driven sort of life; anyone who opts for medical school and psychiatry has to have a pretty healthy neurosis burning inside him to keep the motor going. My own analysis by Dr. Timothy Mann had made me understand why my motor was racing away but hadn't slowed it. I now cruised consistently at sixty miles per hour rather than oscillating erratically between fifteen and ninety-five, but if anything blocked my rapid progress along the speedway I became at irritable as a cabby waiting for a parade to pass. When Karen Homey led me to discover D. T. Suzuki, Alan Watts and Zen, the world of the rat race, which I had assumed to be normal and healthy for an ambitious young man, seemed suddenly like the world of a rat race.
I was stunned and converted - as only the utterly bored can be. Seeing drive, greed and intellectual aspiration as meaningless and sick in my colleagues, I was able to make the unusual generalization to myself; I too had the same symptoms of grasping after illusions. The secret, I seemed to learn, was in not caring, in accepting limitations, conflicts and ambiguities of life with joy and satisfaction, in effortless drifting with the flow of impulse. So life was meaningless? Who cares? So my ambitions are trivial? Pursue them anyway. Life seems boring? Yawn.
I followed impulse. I drifted. I didn't care.
Unfortunately, life seemed to get more boring. Admittedly I was cheerfully, even gaily bored, where before I had been depressedly bored, but life remained essentially uninteresting. My mood of happy boredom was theoretically preferable to my desire to rape and kill, but personally speaking, not much. It was along about this stage of my somewhat sordid road to truth that I discovered the Dice Man.
My life before D-Day was routine, humdrum, repetitious, trivial, compulsive, disordered, irritable - the life of a typical successful married man. My new life began on a hot day in the middle of August, 1968. I awoke a little before seven, cuddled up to my wife Lillian, who was accordioned up into a Z in the bed beside me, and began pleasantly caressing her breasts, thighs and buttocks with my big gentle paws. I liked to begin the day this way: it set a standard by which to measure the gradual deterioration that succeeded from then on. After about four or five minutes we both rolled over and she began caressing me with her hands, and then with her lips, tongue and mouth.
`Nnnn, morning, sweetheart,' one of us would eventually say, `Nnnn,' would say the other.
From that point on the day's dialogue would all be downhill, but with warm, languid hands and lips floating over the body's most sensitive surfaces the world was as near perfection as it ever gets. Freud called it a state of ego-less polymorphous perversity and frowned upon it, but I have little doubt that he never had Lil's hands gliding over him. Or his own wife's either for that matter. Freud was a very great man, but I never get the impression that anyone every effectively stroked his penis.
Lil and I were slowly advancing to the stage where play is replaced by passion when two, three, four thumps resounded from the hall, our bedroom door opened and sixty pounds of boy-energy exploded onto our bed in a graceless flop.
`Time to wake up!' he shouted.
Lil had instinctively turned away from me at the sound of the thumps and, although she arched her lovely behind against me and squirmed intelligently, I knew from long experience that the game was over. I had tried to convince her that in an ideal society parents would make love in front of their children as naturally as they would eat or talk, that ideally the children would caress, fondle and make love to the parent, or both parents but Lillian felt different. She liked to make love under sheets, alone with her partner, uninterrupted. I pointed out that this showed unconscious shame and she agreed and went on hiding our caresses from the kids. Our girl, a forty-five pound variety, was by this time announcing in slightly fonder tones than her older brother: `Cock-a-doodle-do! Time to get up.'
Generally, we were up. Occasionally, when I don't have a nine o'clock patient, we encourage him to fix himself and his sister some breakfast. This he is happy to do, but the curiosity aroused by the sound of shattering glassware or the lack of sound of anything from the kitchen makes our extra minutes in bed unrewarding: it is difficult to enjoy sensual bliss while certain that the kitchen is on fire. This particular morning Lil arose right away, modestly keeping her front parts turned away-from the children, slipped on a flimsy nightgown that may have left them in ignorance, but left nothing to my imagination, and slouched sleepily off to prepare breakfast.
Lil, I should note here, is a tall, essentially slender woman with sharp and pointed elbows, ears, nose, teeth and (metaphorically) tongue, but soft and rounded breasts, buttocks and thighs. All agree she is a beautiful woman, with natural wavy blonde hair and statuesque dignity. However, her lovely face has a peculiarly pixyish expression which I'm tempted to describe as mousy except that then you'll picture her with beady red eyes, and they're actually beady blue. Also, mouses are rarely five feet ten and willowy, and rarely attack men, as Lil does. Nevertheless, her pretty face, in some perceivers, calls up the image of a mouse, a beautiful mouse to be sure, but a mouse. When during our courtship I remarked upon this phenomenon it cost me four weeks of total sexual abstinence. Suffice it to say, my friends, that this mouse analogy is strictly between you and me.
Although young Evie had scrambled talkatively away to follow her mother toward the kitchen, Larry still lay sprawled next to me on the large-king-sized bed. It was his philosophical position that our bed was large enough for the whole family and he deeply resented Lil's obviously hypocritical argument that Mommy and Daddy were so big that they needed the entire area. His recent strategy was to plop on the bed until every last adult was out of it; only then would he triumphantly leave.
'Time to get up, Luke,' he announced with the quiet dignity of a doctor announcing that he's afraid the leg will have to come off.
`It's not eight o'clock yet,' I said.
`Un-nn,' he said, and pointed silently at the clock on the dresser.
I squinted at the clock. `It says twenty-five before six,' I said and rolled away from him. A few seconds later I felt him nudging me in the forehead with his fist.'
`Here are your glasses,' he said. `Now look.'
I looked. `You changed the time when I wasn't looking,' I said, and rolled over in the opposite direction.
Larry climbed back onto the bed and with no conscious intention, I'm sure, began bouncing and humming.
And I, with that irrational surge of fury known to every parent, suddenly shouted `Get OUT of here!' For about thirteen seconds after Larry had raced to the kitchen I lay in my bed with relative content. I could hear Evie's unending chatter punctuated by Lil's occasional yelling, and from the Manhattan streets below, the unending chatter of automobile horns. That thirteen-second involvement in sense experience was fine; then I began to think, and my day was shot.
I thought of my two morning patients, of lunch with Doctors Ecstein and Felloni, of the book on sadism I was supposed to be writing, of the children, of Lillian: I felt bored. For some months I had been feeling - from about ten to fifteen seconds after the cessation of polymorphous perversity until falling asleep at night - or falling into another
session of polymorphous perversity - that depressed feeling of walking up a down escalator. `Whither and why, as
General Eisenhower once said, `have the joys of life all flown away?'
Or, as Burt Lancaster once asked: `Why do our fingers to the grain of wood, the cold of steel, the heat of the sun, the
flesh of women, become calloused?'
I arose, plunged my feet into my size-thirteen slippers, pulled my bathrobe around me like a Roman preparing for the
Forum, and went to the breakfast table, with, I supposed, a superficial sunniness, but deeply brooding on Lancaster's
We have a six-room apartment on the slightly upper, slightly East, slightly expensive side, near Central Park, near the
blacklands, and near the fashionable upper East Side. Its location is so ambiguous that our friends are still not certain
whether to envy us or pity us.
In the small kitchen Lil was standing at the stove aggressively mashing eggs in a frying pan; the two children were
sitting in whining obedience on the far side of the table. Larry had been playing with the window shade behind him
(we have a lovely view from our kitchen window of a kitchen window with a lovely view of ours), and Evie had been
guilty of talking without a break in either time or irrelevance since getting up. Lil, since we don't believe in corporal
punishment, had admonished them verbally. However, Lil's shrieks are such that were children (or adults) ever given a
free choice, I'm sure they would prefer that rather than receive `verbal admonitions' they be whipped with straps
containing metal studs.
Obviously Lil does not enjoy the early morning hours, but we found that having a maid at this hour was `impractical.' When, earlier in our marriage, the first full-time live-in maid we hired turned out to be a beautiful, sex-oozing wench
of a mulatto whose eyes would have stiffened a Eunuch, Lillian intelligently decided that a daytime, part-time maid would give us more privacy. As she brought the plates of scrambled eggs and bacon to the table she glanced up at me and asked `What time will
you be back from Queensborough today?'
`Four-thirty or so. Why?' I said as I lowered my body delicately into a small kitchen chair across from the kids.
'Arlene wants another private chat this afternoon.'
`Larry took my spoon!'
`Give Evie her spoon, Larry,' I said.
Lil gave Evie back her spoon.
`I imagine she wants to talk more of the "I have to have a baby" dream,' she said.
`I wish you'd talk to Jake,' Lil said as she sat down beside me.
`What can I tell him?'
I said. `Say Jake, your wife desperately wants a baby: anything I can do to help?"
`Are there dinosaurs in Harlem?' Evie asked.
`Yes,' Lil said. `You could say precisely that. It's his conjugal responsibility; Arlene is almost thirty-three years old and
has wanted a baby for - Evie, use your spoon.'
`Jake's going to Philadelphia today,' I said.
`I know; that's one reason Arlene's coming up. But the poker is still on for tonight, isn't it?'
'Mommy, what's a virgin?' Larry asked quietly.
`A virgin is a young girl,' she answered.
'Very young,' I added.
'That's funny,' he said.
`What is?' Lil asked.
`Barney Goldfield called me a stupid Virgin.'
'Barney was misusing the word,' Lil said. `Why don't we postpone the poker, Luke. It's-'
`I'd rather see a play.'
`We've seen some lemons.'
'It's better than playing poker with them.'
`If you and Tim and Renata were able to talk about something besides psychology and the stock market, it would help.'
`The psychology of the stock market?'
`And the stock market! God, I wish you'd open your ears for just once.' I forked my eggs into my mouth with dignity, and sipped with philosophical detachment my instant coffee. My initiation into the mysteries of Zen Buddhism had taught me many things, but the most important was not to argue with my wife. `Go with the flow,' the great sage Oboko said, and I'd been doing it for five months now. Lil had been getting madder and madder.
After about twenty seconds of silence (relatively speaking: Larry leapt up to put in toast for himself; Evie tried a brief burst of monologue on dinosaurs which was smothered with a stare), I (theoretically the way to avoid arguments is to surrender before the attack has been fully launched) said quietly I'm sorry, Lil.'
`You and your damn Zen. I'm trying to tell you something. I don't like the forms of entertainment we have. Why can't we ever do something new or different, or, revolution of revolutions, something I want.'
`We do, honey, we do. The last three plays' I had to drag you. You're so-'
`Honey, the children.'
The children in fact looked about as affected by our argument as elephants by two squabbling mosquitoes, but the ploy
always worked to silence Lil.
After we'd all finished breakfast she led the children into their room to get dressed while I went to wash and shave.
Holding the lathered brush stiffly in my raised right hand like an Indian saying `How!', I stared glumly into the mirror.
I always hated to shave a two-day growth of beard; with the dark shadows around my mouth I looked potentially at least like Don Giovanni, Faust, Mephistopheles, Charlton Heston, or Jesus. After shaving I knew I would look like a successful, boyishly handsome public relations man. Because I was a bourgeois psychiatrist and had to wear glasses to see myself in the mirror I had resisted the impulse to grow a beard. I let my sideburns grow, though, and it made me look a little less like a successful public relations man and a little more like an unsuccessful, out-of-work actor.
After I'd begun shaving and was concentrating particularly well on three small hairs at the tip of my chin Lil came, still
wearing her modest, obscene nightgown, and leaned against the doorway.
'I'd divorce you if it wouldn't mean I'd be stuck with the 'kids,' she said, in a tone half-ironic and half-serious.
If you had them, they'd all turn into clownish Buddha-blobs.'
'What I don't understand is that you're a psychiatrist, a supposedly good one, and you have no more insight into me or
into yourself than the elevator man.'
`You don't! You think loving me up, apologizing before and-after every argument, buying me paints, leotards, guitars,
records and new book clubs must make me happy. It's driving me crazy.'
'What can I do?'
`I don't know. You're the analyst. You should know. I'm bored I'm Emma Bovary in everything except that I have no
'That makes me a clod doctor, you know.'
'I know. I'm glad you noticed, It's no fun attacking unless you catch my allusions. Usually you know about as much
about literature as the elevator man.'
`Say, just what is it between you and this elevator man?'
'I've given up my yoga exercises-'
'They just make me tense.'
'That's strange, they're supposed-'
`I know! But they make me tense - I can't help it.'
I'd finished shaving, taken off my glasses; and was grooming my hair with what I fear may have been greasy kid stuff;
Lil moved into the bathroom and sat on the wooden laundry basket. Crouching now quite a bit in order to see the top
of my hair in the mirror, I noticed that my knee muscles were already aching. Moreover, without my glasses I looked
old today, and in a blurred sort of way, badly dissipated. Since I didn't smoke or drink much, I wondered vaguely if
excessive early morning petting were debilitating.
`Maybe I should become a hippie,' Lil went on absently.
"That's what a few of our patients try. They don't seem overly pleased with the result.'
`Ah Lil sweet precious-'
`Don't touch me.'
Lil was backed up against the tub and shower curtain as if threatened by a stranger in a cheap melodrama, and I,
slightly appalled by her apparent fear, backed meekly away.
`I've got a patient in half an hour, hon, I've got to go.'
`I'll try infidelity!' Lil shouted after me, 'Emma Bovary did it.'
I turned back again. She was standing with her arms folded over her chest, her two elbows pointing out sharply from
her long slender body, and with a bleak, mousy, helpless look on her face; at the moment she seemed like a kind of
female Don Quixote after having just been tossed in a blanket. I went to her, and took her in my anus.
`Poor little rich girl. Who would you have for adultery? The elevator man? [She sobbed.] Anyone else? Sixty-three #161;year old Dr. Mann, and flashy, debonair Jake Ecstein [she detested Jake and he never noticed her]. Come on, come on.
We'll go out to the farmhouse soon; it'll be the break you need. Now…'
Her head was still nestled into my chest, but her breathing was regular. She'd had just the one sob.
`Now . . . chin up . . . bust out . . . tummy in . . .'
I said. `Buttocks firm. . and you're ready to face life again. You can have an exciting morning: talking with Evie,
discussing avant-garde art with Ma Kettle [our maid], reading Time, listening to Schubert's Unfinished Symphony:
racy, thought-provoking experiences all.'
'You [she scratched her nose against my chest] …should mention that I could do coloring with Larry when he gets
home from school.'
`And that, and that. You've absolutely no end of home entertainments. Don't forget to call in the elevator man for a
quick one when Evie is having her rest time.'
My right arm around her, I walked us into our bedroom.
While I finished dressing, she watched quietly, standing next to tile big bed with arms folded and elbows out. She saw
me to the door and after we had exchanged a farewell kiss of less than great passion she said quietly with a bemused,
almost interested expression on her face. I don't even have my yoga anymore.'
I shared my office on 57th Street with Dr. Jacob Ecstein, young (thirty-three), dynamic (two books published),
intelligent (he and I usually agreed), personable (everyone liked him), unattractive (no one loved him), anal (he plays
the stock market compulsively), oral (he smokes heavily), non-genital (doesn't seem to notice women), and Jewish (he
knows two Yiddish slang words). Our mutual secretary was a Miss Reingold, Mary Jane Reingold, old (thirty-six),
undynamic (she worked for us), unintelligent (she prefers Ecstein to me), personable (everyone felt sorry for her),
unattractive (tall, skinny, glasses, no one loved her), anal (obsessively neat), oral (always eating), genital (trying hard),
and non-Jewish (finds use of two Yiddish slang words very intellectual). Miss Reingold greeted me efficiently.
`Mr. Jenkins is waiting in your office, Dr. Rhinehart.'
`Thank you, Miss Reingold. Any calls for me yesterday?'
`Dr. Mann wanted to check about lunch this afternoon. I said yes".'
Before I moved off to my patient, Jake Ecstein came briskly out of his office, shot off a cheerful `Hi, Luke baby,
how's the book?' the way most men might ask about a friend's wife, and asked Miss Reingold for a couple of case
I've described Jake's character; his body was short, rotund, chubby: his visage was round, alert, cheerful with horn-
rimmed glasses and a piercing, I-am-able-to-see-through-you stare; his social front was used-car salesman, and he
kept his shoes shined with a finish so bright that I sometimes suspected he cheated with a phosphorescent shoe polish.
`My book's moribund,' I answered as Jake accepted a fistful of papers from a somewhat flustered Miss Reingold.
`Great,' he said. `Just got a review of my Analysis: End and Means from the AP Journal. They say it's great.'
He began glancing slowly through the papers, placing one of them every now and then back onto his secretary's desk.
`I'm glad to hear it, Jake. You seem to be hitting the jackpot with this one.'
`People are seeing the light-'
'Er… Dr. Ecstein,' Miss Reingold said.
'They'll like it - I may convert a few analysts.'
`Are you going to be able to make lunch today?' I asked. 'When are you leaving for-Philadelphia?'
'Damn right. Want to show Mann my review. Plane leaves two. I'll miss your poker party tonight.'
'Er . . . Dr. Ecstein.'
'You read any more of my book?' Jake went on and gave me one of his piercing, squinting glances, which, had I been
a patient, would have led me to repress for a decade all that was on my mind at that instant.
'No. No, I haven't. I must still have a psychological block: professional jealousy and all that.'
`Er . . . Dr. Ecstein?'
'Hmmmm. Yeh. In Philly I'm gonna see that anal optometrist. I've been telling you about. Think we're about at a break
through. Cured of his voyeurism, but still has visual blackouts. It's only been three months though. I'll bust him. Bust
him right back to twenty-twenty.' He grinned.
`Dr. Ecstein, sir,' said Miss Reingold, now standing.
`Seeya Luke. Send in Mr. Klopper, Miss R.'
As Jake, still carrying a handful of forms, exited briskly into his inner office, I asked Miss Reingold to check with
Queensborough State Hospital about my afternoon appointments. 'Yes, Dr. Rhinehart,' she said.
'And what did you wish to communicate to Dr. Ecstein?'
'Oh, Doctor,' she smiled doubtfully. `Dr. Ecstein asked for the case notes on Miss Riffe and Mr. Klopper and I gave
him by mistake the record sheets of our last year's budget.'
`Don't worry, Miss Reingold,' I replied firmly. `This may another breakthrough.'
It was 9.07 when I finally settled into my chair behind the outstretched form of Reginald Jenkins on my couch.
Normally nothing upsets a patient more than a late analyst, 'but Jenkins was a masochist: I could count on him
assuming that he deserved it.
'I'm sorry about being here,' he said, `but your secretary insisted I come in and lie down.'
'That's quite all right Mr. Jenkins. I'm sorry I'm late. Let's both relax and you can go right ahead.'
Now the curious reader will want to know what kind of an analyst I was. It so happens that I practiced non-directive
therapy. For those not familiar with it, the analyst is passive, compassionate, non-interpretive, non-directing. More
precisely, he resembles a redundant moron. For example, a session with a patient like Jenkins might go like this
JENKINS: `I feel that no matter how hard I try I'm always going to fail; that some kind of internal mechanism always
acts to screw up what I'm trying to do.'
[Pause] ANALYST: `You feel that some part of you always forces you to fail.'
JENKINS: `Yes. For example, that time when I had that date with that nice woman, really attractive - the librarian,
you remember - and all I talked about at dinner and all evening was the New York Jets and what a great defensive
secondary they have. I knew I should be talking books or asking her questions but I couldn't stop myself.'
ANALYST: `You feel that some part of you consciously ruined the potential relationship with that girl:
JENKINS: `And that job with Wessen, Wessen and Woof. I could have had it. But I took a month's vacation in
Jamaica when I know they'd be wanting an interview! 'I see.'
`What do you make of it all, Doctor? I suppose it's masochistic.'
`You think it might be masochistic! 'I don't know. What do you think?'
'You aren't certain if it's masochistic but you do know that you often do things which are self-destructive.'
`That's right. That's right. And yet I don't have any suicidal tendencies. Except in those dreams. Throwing myself
under a herd of hippopotamuses. Or 'potami. Setting myself on fire in front of Wessen, Wessen and Woof. But I keep goofing up real opportunities.'
`Although you never consciously think of suicide you have dreamed about it.'
`Yes. But that's normal. Everybody does crazy things in dreams.'
`You feel that your dreaming of self-destructive acts s normal because…'
The intelligent reader gets the picture. The effect of non-directive therapy is to encourage the patient to speak more and more frankly, to gain total confidence in the non-threatening, totally accepting clod who's curing him, and eventually to diagnose and resolve his own conflicts, with old thirty-five dollars-an-hour echoing away through it all behind the couch.
And it works. It works precisely as well as every other tested form of psychotherapy. It works sometimes and fails at others, and its success and failures are identical with other analysts' successes and failures. Of course at times the dialogue resembles a comedy routine. My patient the second hour, that morning was a hulking heir to a small fortune who had the build of a professional wrestler and the mentality of a professional wrestler.
Frank Osterflood was the most depressing case I'd had in five years of practice. In the first two months of analysis he had seemed a rather nice empty socialite, worried half-heartedly about his inability to concentrate on anything. He tended to drift from job to job averaging two or three a year. He talked great deal about his jobs and about a mousy father and two disgusting brothers with families, but all with such cocktail party patter that I knew we must be a long way from what was really bothering him. If anything was bothering him. The only clue I had to indicate that he was anything but a vacuous muscle was his occasional spitting hissing remarks - usually of a general nature - about women. When I asked one morning about his relations with women he hesitated and then said he found them boring. When I asked him how he found fulfillment for his sexual needs, he answered neutrally, `Prostitutes.'
Two or three times in later sessions he described in detail how he liked to humiliate the call girls he hired, but he would never make any effort to analyze his behavior; he seemed to feel in his casual man-of-the-world way that humiliating women was good, normal, all American behavior. He found it more interesting to analyze why he left his last job; the office he worked in `smelled funny.'
About halfway through the session that August day he interpreted his seemingly pleasant recollections of having single-handedly destroyed an East Side bar by sitting up on the couch and looking intensely but in my professional opinion, dumbly, at the floor. Even his face seemed bulging with muscles. He sat there in the same position for several minutes, grunting quietly to himself with a sound like a noisy refrigerator. Finally he said:
'I get so tied up inside I just have to . . . to do something or I'll explode,' he said.
`Do something. . , sexually or I'll explode.'
`You get so tense you feel you must express yourself sexually.
[Pause] `Don't you want to know how!' he asked.
`If you'd like to tell me.'
`Do you want to know? Don't you need to know to help me?'
`I want you to tell me only what you feel like telling me.'
`Well, I know you'd like to know, but I'm not going to tell you. I've told you about the fuckin' women I've fucked and
how they make me want to puke with their snaky wet orgasms, but I guess I'll keep this to myself.'
`You feel that although I'd like to know, you've already told me about your relations with women sand so you won't
`Actually, it's sodomy. When I get tense - it might be right after I've fucked some white-satin slut, I get … I need … I
want to ram the Goddam insides out of some woman .. . some girl . . . young . . . the younger the better.'
`When you're very keyed up you want to ram the insides out of some woman.'
`The Goddam insides. I want to sink my prick up that intestine into that belly through the esophagus up that throat and
come right out the Goddam top of her head.'
`You'd like to penetrate through her whole body.'
`Yeah, but up her ass. I want her to scream, to bleed, to be horrified.'
[Pause. Long pause]
`You'd like to penetrate her anus and make her bleed, scream and be horrified.'
'Yeah, but the whores I tried it with chewed gum and picked their nose.'
[Pause] `The whores you tried it with were neither hurt nor horrified.'
`Shit, they took their seventy-five bucks, shot their ass into the air and chewed gum or read a comic book. If I tried to
get rough some guy six inches taller than me would appear in the doorway with a sledgehammer or something. [Pause]
I found sodomy, per se [he smiled awkwardly] didn't end my tenseness.'
`You were unable to release, your tension by relations with prostitutes when the women seemed to experience no pain
`So I knew I had to find someone who would scream.'
`You sought other alternatives to relieve your tensions.'
`Yeah. Fact is I began raping and killing young girls.'
[Long pause] [Longer pause]
`In an effort to relieve these tense feelings you began raping and killing young girls,'
`Yeah. You're not allowed to tell, are you? I mean you told me professional ethics forbid your telling anything I say, right?'
'I find the raping and killing' of girls helps relieve the tension quite a bit and makes me feel better again.'
`My problem is that I'm beginning to get a little nervous ..about getting caught. I sort of hoped maybe analysis might help me find a little more normal way to reduce my tensions.'
`You'd like to find a different way to reduce tensions other than raping and killing girls.'
`Yeah. Either that or help me to stop worrying about getting caught ….'
The alert reader may now be feeling that this stuff is slightly too sensational for a typical day at the office, but Mr. Osterflood really exists. Or rather existed - more of that later on. The fact is that I was writing a book entitled The Sado-Masochistic Personality in Transition, a work which was to describe cases in which the sadistic personality developed into a masochistic one and vice versa. For this reason my colleagues always sent me patients with a markedly strong sadistic or masochistic bent. Osterflood was admittedly the most professionally active sadist I'd treated, but the wards of mental hospitals have many like him.
What is remarkable, I suppose, is Osterflood's walking around loose. Although after his confession I urged him to enter an institution, he refused and I couldn't order his being committed without breaking professional confidence; moreover no one else apparently suspected that he was an `enemy of society.'
All I could do was warn my friends to keep their little girls away from Harlem playgrounds (where Osterflood obtained his victims) and try hard for a cure. Since my friends all kept their children out of Harlem playgrounds because of the danger of Negro rapists even my warnings were unnecessary.
After Osterflood left that morning I brooded a little on my helplessness with him, made a few notes, and then decided I ought to work on my book.
I dragged myself to it with the enthusiasm of a man with diarrhea moving toward the toilet: I had a compulsive need to get it out but had some months earlier come to the conclusion that all I was producing was shit.
My book had become a bore: it was a pretentious failure. I had tried a few months before to get Random House to agree to publish it when it was finished, imagining that with extensive advertising the book would achieve national and then international fame, driving lake Ecstein to fury, women and reckless losses in the stock market. Random House had hedged, hawed, - considered and reconsidered . . . Random House wasn't interested. This morning, as on most recent mornings, neither was I.
The flaw in the book was small but significant: it had nothing to say. The bulk of it was to be empirical descriptions of patients who had, changed from primarily sadistic behavior patterns to masochistic ones. My dream had been to discover a technique to lock the behavior of the patient at that precise point when he had passed away from sadism but had not become masochistic. If there were such a point. I had much dramatic evidence of complete crossovers; none of `frozen freedom,' a phrase describing the ideal mean state that came to me in an explosion of enlightenment one morning while echoing Mr. Jenkins.
The problem was that Jake Ecstein, car-salesman front and all, had written two of the most rational and honest books about psychoanalytic therapy that I'd ever read, and their import essentially demonstrated that none of us knew or had any likelihood of knowing what we were doing. Jake cured patients as well as the next fellow and then published clear, brilliant accounts demonstrating that the key to his success was accident, that frequently it was his failure to follow his own theoretical structure which led to a `breakthrough' and the patient's improvement. When I ended my early-morning dialogue with Miss Reingold joking that Jake's reading the 1967, get record sheets might lead to a breakthrough I was partly serious. Jake had shown again and again the significance of chance in therapeutic development, perhaps best dramatized in his famous `pencil-sharpening cure.'
A female patient he'd had under treatment for fifteen months with so little success in changing her neurotic aplomb that even Jake was bored, achieved total and complete transformation when Jake, absentmindedly confusing her with his secretary, ordered her to sharpen his pencils. The patient, a wealthy housewife, went into the outer office to obey and suddenly, when about to insert a pencil into the sharpener, began to shriek, tear her hair and defecate.
Three weeks later, `Mrs. P.' (Jake's choice of pseudonyms is only one of his unerring talents) was cured.
I then, was coming to feel that my elaborate writing efforts were only idle, pretentious playing with words for publication.
I thus spent the hour before lunch: (a) reading the financial section of The New York Times; (b) writing a page-and-a #161;half case report on Mr. Osterflood in the form of a financial and budget report (`bearish outlook for prostitutes'; `bull market in Harlem playground girls'), and (c) drawing a picture on my 'book manuscript of an elaborate Victorian house being bombed by motorcycle planes piloted by Hell's Angels.
I lunched that day with my three closest colleagues: Dr. Ecstein, whom I mock because he's so intelligent and successful; Dr. Renata Felloni, the only female Italian-born practicing analyst in recent New York history; and Dr. Timothy Mann, the short, fat, disheveled father figure who had psychoanalyzed me four years before and been mentoring me ever since.
When Jake and I arrived, Dr. Mann was hunched over the table chewing heavily on a roll and blinking benevolently at Dr. Felloni seated opposite him. Dr. Mann was a big wheel: one of the directors at Queensborough State Hospital, where I worked twice a week; a member of the executive committee of PANY (Psychiatrists Association of New York), and the author of seventeen articles and three books, one of them the most frequently used text-on existentialist therapy in existence. It had been considered an extraordinary honor to be psychoanalyzed by Dr. Mann and I had appreciated it greatly until my increasing boredom and unhappiness had deluded me into believing that analysis had done me no good. Dr. Mann was concentrating on his eating and may or may not have been listening to the dignified discourse of Dr. Felloni.
Renata Felloni resembles a spinsterish dean of women at a Presbyterian all-girls college: she has gray hair always neatly coiffured, spectacles and a slow, dignified, Italian-cum-New England twang that makes her discussions of penises, orgasms, sodomy and fellatio seem like a discussion of credit hours and home economics. Moreover, she had, as far as anyone knew, never been married and, with less certainty, had never in the seven years we had known her given any indication of ever having known a man (biblical `know'). Her dignity acted to prevent any of us from either direct or indirect investigations into her past. All we felt free to talk with her about were weather, stocks, penises, orgasms, sodomy and fellatio.
The restaurant was noisy and expensive, and, except for Dr. Mann, who loved every trough he had ever fed in, we all hated it and went there because every other restaurant we had tried in the convenient area was also crowded, noisy and expensive. I usually spent so much nervous energy trying to hear what my friends were saying over the clattering of voices, dishes and 'soft' music and trying to avoid watching Dr. Mann eating that I never remember whether the food was good or not. At any rate I rarely got sick on it.
'Only ten percent of our subjects believe that masturbation is "punished by God eternally",' Dr. Felloni was saying as Jake I sat down opposite each other at the tiny table. She was apparently talking about a research project she and I were jointly directing and she smiled formally and equally to her left at Jake and to her right at me, and continued: 'Thirty and a third percent believe that masturbation is "punished by God finitely"; forty percent that it is physically unhealthy two and one-half percent believe that there is danger of pregnancy seventy-five per -'
'Danger of pregnancy?' Jake broke in as he turned from accepting a menu.
'We use the same multiple choices' she explained smiling, 'for masturbation, kissing, petting, premarital and post #161;marital heterosexual intercourse, homosexual petting, and homosexual sodomy So far, subjects have indicated that there is danger of pregnancy only with masturbation, petting to orgasm, and heterosexual intercourse.'
I smiled to Jake, but he was squinting at Dr. Felloni.
'Well' Jake asked her, `what's the question you're reeling off percentages for?'
'We ask, "For what reasons, if any, do you believe that sexually exciting yourself through fantasy, reading, looking at pictures or manual excitation is bad?"
`Do you give them a choice of reasons for why masturbation flood?'
Dr. Mann asked, wiping his lower lip with a piece of roll.
'Certainly,' Dr. Felloni replied. `A subject can answer that he approves of masturbation for any of six options: (1) It is enjoyable (2) it releases tension; (3) it is a natural way of expressing love; (4) it is something one should experience to be complete (5) procreates the race; (6) it is the social thing to do.'
Jake and I now both began laughing. When we quieted she assured Jake that only the first two choices had been chosen for masturbation, except for one person who had indicated that masturbation was valuable as a way of expressing love. She had determined in a recent interview, however, that the eject had checked that item in a cynical frame of mind.
I don't know why you ever got involved in this thing,' Jake said, turning to me suddenly. `Social psychologists have been turning out studies like yours for decades. You're digging in sterile ground.'
Dr. Felloni nodded politely at Jake's words as she did whenever someone was uttering anything which might vaguely be construed as criticism of her or her work. The more vigorous and direct the criticism the more vigorously she nodded her head. It was my hypothesis that were a prosecuting attorney ever to attack her for a full hour there would be no need for a guillotine: her neck would have melted away, and her head, still nodding, would be rolling on the floor at the prosecutor's feet. She replied to Jake:
`Our plan to evaluate the validity of the multiple choice answers by in-depth interviews of every subject is, however, a genuine contribution.'
`You'll spend - my God - a hundred and twenty hours verifying the obvious: namely, multiple-choice attitude tests are unreliable.'
`Yes, but remember we got a foundation grant,' I said.
`So what? Why didn't you request it fob something original, something worthwhile?'
`We wanted a foundation grant,' I answered ironically.
Jake gave me his I-see-into-your-soul squint and then laughed.
`We couldn't think of anything original or worthwhile,' I added, laughing too, `so we decided to do this: Dr. Felloni
managed to nod and frown, both vigorously.
`You'll discover that sexual intercourse is more frequently approved after marriage than before,' said Jake, `that
homosexuals approve of homosexuality, that-'
`Our results' Dr. Felloni said quietly, `may not fulfil conventional expectation. We may discover from our in-depth
interviews that subjects misrepresent their attitudes and experiences in a way that previous experimenters did not
'She's right, Jake. I agree the whole thing seems a mammoth bore and may lead to the verification of the obvious, but it
`It will,' Dr. Mann said.
`What?' I said.
`It will verify the obvious and nothing more.'
He looked up at me for the first time. His jowls were a Santa Claus pink, either from alcohol or anger. I couldn't tell.
'So why do you waste your time? Renata could do the whole thing herself without your help.'
`It's an entertaining time-filler. I often daydream of publishing embellished results to parody such experiments. You
know. "Ninety-five percent of American youth believe that masturbation is a better way of expressing friendship and
love than intercourse."
'Your experiment is a parody without embellishment,' Dr. Mann said.
There was a silence, if you can exclude the cacophony of voices, dishes and music of the surrounding hubbub.
'Our experiment,' Dr. Felloni finally said with a gallop of nods, `will offer new insight into the relations between
sexual behavior, sexual tolerance and personality stability.'
'I read your letter to the Esso Foundation,' Dr. Mann said.
'I know a teen-age girl that could run intellectual rings around most of us here,' Jake said, changing the subject with
out blinking an eye. `She knew everything, brains coming out of her ears. I was within weeks of a major breakthrough.
But she died'
'She died?' I asked.
'Fell from the Williamsburg Bridge into the East River. I confess I see her as one of my two or three possible failures.'
'Look, Tim' I said turning back to Dr. Mann. `I agree our experiment borders on nonsense, but in an absurd world, one
can only go with the flow.'
'I'm not interested in your metaphysical speculations.'
`Or my scientific ones. Maybe I'd better stick to talking about the stock market.'
'. `Oh come off it now, you too,' Jake said. `Ever since Luke wrote his paper on "Taoism, Zen and Analysis", Tim has
been feting as if he'd been converted to astrology.'
'At least with astrology,' said Dr. Mann, looking coldly at `one still tries to predict something important. With Zen
drifts into Nirvana without thought or effort'
`One doesn't drift into Nirvana,' I said helpfully. 'The drifting is Nirvana.'
`A convenient theory,' Dr. Mann said.
'All good theories are.'
'Gold stocks and General Motors have risen an average of two points a week so far this month,' Dr. Felloni said,
`Yeah,' said Jake, `and you'll notice that Waste Products, Inc., Dolly's Duds and Nadir Technology are all rising.'
Dr. Mann and I continued to look at each other, he with warm red face and chill blue eyes, and I with what I intended
to be cheerful detachment.
`My stock seems rather low these days,' I said.
`Perhaps it's gravitating to its natural level,' he replied.
`It may yet rally.'
`Drifters don't rally.'
`Yes they do,' I said. 'You just don't understand Zen.'
`I feel blessed,' Dr. Mann said.
`You've got eating, let me have my Zen and sex experiments.'
`Eating doesn't interfere with my productivity.'
'I rather imagine it increases it.'
Ha flushed even more and pushed back his chair.
`Oh shit,' said Jake. `Will you two stop it. Tim, you're sitting there like a fat Buddha attacking Luke's Buddhism, and
`You're right,' Dr. Mann said, sitting now as stiffly in his chair as his lumpy clothing and body would permit. `I
apologize Luke. The rolls were cold today and I had to attack something.'
`Sure,' I said. `I apologize too. My martini was diluted and I had to hit back.'
The waitress was at the table again and Jake was getting ready to order dessert, but Dr. Felloni spoke loudly to the
general table: `My own portfolio has risen fourteen percent in the last three months despite a market decline of two
`Pretty soon you'll found your own foundation, Renata,' Dr. Mann said.
`Prudent investment,' she replied, `is like prudent experimentation: it sticks to the obvious.'
For the rest of the lunch, the conversation was all downhill.
After lunch I paid my ransom at the local parking lot and drove off through the rain for the hospital. I drove a Rambler American. My colleagues drive Jaguars, Mercedes, Cadillacs, Corvettes, Porsches, Thunderbirds and (occasional slummers) Mustangs: I drove a Rambler. At that time it was my most original contribution to New York City Psychoanalysis.
I went east across Manhattan, up over the Queensborough Bridge and down onto the island in the East River where the State Hospital is located. The ancient buildings appeared bleak and macabre. Some looked abandoned. Three new buildings, built of cheerful yellow brick and pleasant, shiny bars, make hospital appear, together with the older horror houses, like a Hollywood movie set in which two movies, `My Mother Went Insane' and `Prison Riot', are being filmed simultaneously.
I went directly to the Admissions Building, one of the old, low, blackened buildings which, it was reliably reported, was held together solely by the thirty-seven layers of pale green paint on all the interior walls and ceilings: A small office was available to me there every Monday and Wednesday afternoon for my therapy sessions with select patients. The patients were select in two senses: one, I selected them, and two, they were actually receiving therapy. I normally handled two patients meeting each for about an hour twice a week.
A month before this, however, one of my two patients had attacked a hospital attendant with an eight-foot-long bench and in being subdued, had received three broken ribs, thirty-two stitches and a hernia. Since this was slightly less than he had inflicted upon the five attendants doing the subduing, no charges of hospital brutality seemed justified, and after his wounds healed, he was to be sent to a maximum-security hospital.
To replace him, Dr. Mann had recommended to me a seventeen-year-old boy admitted for incipient divinity: he showed a tendency to act as if he were Jesus Christ. Whether Dr. Mann assumed all Christs to be masochistic or that the boy would be for my spiritual health was unclear.
My other QSH patient was Arturo Toscanini Jones; a Negro lived every moment as if he were a Black Panther isolated on a half-acre island filled with white hunters armed with Howitzers. My primary difficulty in helping him was that his way of seeing the world seemed to be an eminently realistic evaluation of his life as it had been. Our sessions were usually, quiet ones: Arturo Toscanini Jones had very little to say to white hunters. Although I don't blame him, as a non-directive therapist I was a little handicapped; I needed sounds for my echo.
Jones had been an honors student at City College of New York for three years before disturbing a meeting of the Young Conservatives Club by throwing in two hand grenades. This act would normally have earned long tenure in a penitentiary, but Jones's previous history of `mental disturbance' (marijuana and LSD user, `nervous breakdown' sophomore year - he interrupted a political science class by shouting obscenities at his professor) and the failure of the two hand grenades to maim anything more valuable than a portrait of Barry Goldwater, earned him instead an indefinite stay at QSH. He had become my patient under the questionable assumption that anyone who throws hand grenades at Young Conservatives must be sadistic. That afternoon I decided to let myself go a bit and see if I couldn't provoke a dialogue.
`Mr. Jones,' I began (fifteen minutes had already passed in total silence), `what makes you think that I can't or won't help you?'
Sitting sideways to me in a straight wooden chair, he turned his eyes at me with serene disdain: `Experience,' he said.
'That nineteen consecutive white men have kicked you in the balls doesn't necessarily mean the twentieth will.'
True,' he said, `but the brother whom came up to that next Charlie with his hands not protecting his crotch would be one big stupid bastard.'
'True, but he could still talk.'
`No sub! We Niggahs gotta use our hands when we talk. Yessuh! We're physical, we are.'
`You didn't use your hands then when you spoke.'
`I'm white, man, didn't you know that? I'm with the CIA investigating the NAACP to see if there's any secret black influence on that organization.'
His teeth and eyes glittered at me, in play or hatred I didn't know.
'Ah-then,' I said, `you can appreciate my disguise: `I'm black, man, didn't you know that? I'm with-'
`You're not black, Rhinehart,' he interrupted sharply. `If you we'd both know it and only one of us would be here.'
'Still, black or white, I'd like to help you.'
'Black they wouldn't let you help me; white, you can't.'
`That'll be the day.'
When I lapsed into silence, he resumed his. The last fifteen minutes were spent with us both listening to the regular rhythmic shrieks from a man someplace in the Cosmold Building. After Mr. Jones left I stared out the gray window at the rain until a pretty little student nurse brought me the folder on Eric Cannon and said she'd bring the family to my office. After she left, I mused for a few seconds on what is called in the medical profession the `p' phenomenon: the tendency of starched 'purses' uniforms to make it seem as if all nurses were bountifully blessed in the bosom and thus shaped like the letter `p'. It meant that doctors surveying the field could never be sure that a nurse they were flirting with was proportioned like two grapefruit on a stick or two peas on an ironing board. Some claimed it was the very essence of the mystery and allure of the medical profession.
Eric Cannon's folder gave a rather detailed description of a latter-day sheep in wolf's clothing. Since the age of five the boy hail shown himself to be both remarkably precocious and a little simpleminded. Although the son of a Lutheran minister, he argued with his teachers, was truant from school, disobedient to teachers and parents, and a runaway from home on six mate occasions since the age of nine, the last episode occurring only six months before, when he disappeared for eight weeks before turning up in Cuba. At the age of twelve he began a career of priest baiting, which culminated in the boy's refusal to enter a church again. He also refused to go to school. He was caught possessing marijuana. He was stopped in what appeared to be the act of trying to immolate himself in front of the Central Brooklyn Selective Services Induction Centre.
Pastor Cannon, his father, seemed to be a good man - in the traditional sense of the word: a conservative, restrained derider of the way things are. But his son had kept rebelling, had refused to be treated by a private psychiatrist; refused to work. Refused to live at home except when it suited him. His father had thus decided to send him to QSH, with the under standing that he would receive therapy with me.
'Dr. Rhinehart,' the pretty little student nurse was saying suddenly at my elbow. `This is Pastor Cannon and Mrs. Cannon.'
`How do you do,' I said automatically and found myself grasping the chubby hand of a sweet-faced man with thick
graying hair. He smiled fully as he shook my hand.
`Glad to meet you, Doctor. Dr. Mann has told me a tot about you.'
`How do you do, Doctor,' a woman's musical voice said, and I turned to Mrs. Cannon. Small and trim she was standing
behind the left shoulder of her husband and smiling horribly her eyes kept flickering off to a line of female hags who
were oozing noisily through the hallway outside our door. The patients were dressed with such indescribable ugliness
they looked like character actors who had been rejected for Marat-Sade for being overdone.
Behind her was the son, Eric. He was dressed in a suit and tie, but his long long hair, rimless glasses and sparkle in the
eyes which was either idiotic or divine made him look anything but middle-class suburbanite.
`That's him,' said Pastor Cannon with what honestly looked like a jovial smile.
I nodded politely and motioned them all toward the chairs. The pastor and his wife pushed past me to sit down, but
Eric was staring out at the last of the women passing in the hall. One of them, an ugly, toothless woman with dish-mop
hair, had stopped and was smiling coyly at him.
`Hi ya, cutie,' she said. `Come down and see me some time.'
The boy stared a second, smiled and said, `I will.'
Laughing, he darted a bright-eyed look at me and went to take a chair. A juvenile idiot.
I plumped my big bulk informally on the desk opposite the Cannons and tried my `gee-it's-wonderful-to-be-able-to #161;
talk-to you' smile. The boy was sitting near the window to my right and slightly behind his parents, looking at me with
`You understand, Pastor Cannon, I hope, in committing Eric to this hospital you are surrendering your authority over
'Of course, Dr. Rhinehart. I have complete confidence in Dr. Mann.'
`Good. I assume also that both you and Eric know that this is no summer camp Eric is entering. This is a state mental
`It's a fine place, Dr. Rhinehart,' said Pastor Cannon. `We in New York State have every right to be proud.'
'Hmmmmm, yes,' I said, and turned to Eric. `What do you think of it all?'
'There are groovy patterns in the soot on the windows.'
`My son believes that the whole world, is insane.'
Eric was still looking pleasantly out the window. `A plausible theory these days, one must admit,' I said to him, `but it
doesn't get you out of this hospital.'
'No, it gets me in,' he replied. We stared at each other for the first time.
`Do you want me to try to help you?' I asked.
`How can you help anyone?'
'Somebody's paying me well for trying.'
The boy's smile didn't seem to be sardonic, only friendly.
`They pay my father for spreading the Truth.'
`It may be ugly here you know,' I said.
`I think I'll feel right at home here.'
`Not many people here will want to create a better world,' his father said.
`Everyone wants to create a better world,' Eric replied, with a hint of sharpness in his voice.
I eased myself off the desk and walked around behind it to pick up Eric's record. Peering over my glasses as if I could see without them I said to the father: `I'd like to talk with you about Eric before you leave. Would you prefer that we talk privately or would you like to have Eric here?'
'No difference to me,' he said. `He knows what I think. He'll probably act up a bit, but I'm used to it. Let him stay.'
`Eric, do you want to remain or would you like to go to the ward now?'
'Full fathom five my father lies,' he said looking out the window. His mother winced, but his father simply shook his head slowly and adjusted his glasses. Since I was interested in getting the son's live reaction to his parents, I let him stay.
'Tell me about your son, Pastor Cannon,' I said, seating myself in the wooden desk chair and leaning forward with my sincere professional look. Pastor Cannon cocked his head judiciously, crossed one leg over the other and cleared his throat.
`My son is a mystery,' he said. `It's incredible to me that he should exist. He's totally intolerant of others. You … if you've read what's in that folder you know the details. Two weeks ago though - another example. Eric [he glanced nervously at the boy, who was apparently looking out or at the window) hasn't been eating well for a month. Hasn't been reading or writing. He burned everything he'd written oven two months ago. An incredible amount. He doesn't speak much to anyone anymore. I was surprised he answered you …. Two weeks ago, at the dinner table, Eric playing saint with a glass of water, I remarked to our guest that night, a Mr. Houston of Pace Industries, a vice-president, that I almost hoped sometimes that there would be a third World War because I couldn't see how else the world would ever be rid of Communism. It's a thought we've all had at one time or another. Eric threw the water in my face. He smashed his glass on the floor.'
He was peering intently at me, waiting for a reaction. When I merely looked back he went-on: `I wouldn't mind for myself, but you can imagine how upset my wife is made by such scenes, and this is typical.'
`Yes,' I said. `Why do you think he did it?'
`He's an egomaniac. He doesn't see things as you and I do. He doesn't want to live as we do. He thinks that all Catholic priests, most teachers and myself are all wrong, but so do many others without always making trouble about it. And that's the crux. He takes life too seriously. He never plays, or at least never when most people want him to. He's always playing, but never what he's supposed to. He's always making war for his way of life. This is a great land of freedom but it isn't made for people who insist on insisting on their own ideas. Tolerance is our byword and Eric is above all intolerant.'
'Sorry about that, Dad,' Eric suddenly said, and with a friendly smile got up and took a position directly behind and between his parents with a hand resting on the back of each of their chairs. Pastor Cannon looked at me as if he were trying to read by the expression on my face exactly how much longer he had to live.
`Are you intolerant, Eric?' I asked.
`I'm intolerant of evil and stupidity,' he said.
`But who gives you the right,' his father said, turning partly around to confront his son, `to tell everyone what's good
'It's the divine right of kings,' Eric replied, smiling.
His father turned back to me and shrugged. `There you are,' he said. `And let me give you another example. Eric, when
ha was thirteen years old, mind you, stands up in the middle of my church during a crowded midmorning Communion
and says aloud above the kneeling figures: 'That it should come to this," and walks out.'
We all remained as we were without speaking, as if I were the concentrating photographer and they about to have their
family portrait taken.
`You don't like modern Christianity?' I finally said to Eric.
He rang his fingers through his long black hair, looked up briefly at the ceiling and screamed.
His father and mother came out of their chairs like rats o$ as electric grid and both stood trembling, watching their
son, hands at his side, a slight smile on his face, screaming.
A white-suited Negro attendant entered the office and then another. They looked at me for instructions. I waited for
Eric's second lungful scream to end to see if he would begin another. He didn't. When he had finished, he stood quietly
for a moment and then said to no one in particular: Time to go.'
`Take him to the admissions ward, to Dr. Vener for his physical. Give this prescription to Dr. Vener.'
I scribbled out a note for a mild sedative and watched the two attendants look warily at the boy.
`Will he come quietly?' the smaller of the two asked.
Eric stood still a moment longer and then did a rapid two step followed by an irregular jig toward the door. He sang:
`We're OFF to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. We're OFF…'
Exit dancing. Attendants follow, last seen each reaching to grasp one of his arms. Pastor Cannon had a comforting arm around his wife's shoulder. I had rung for a student nurse. `I'm very sorry, Dr. Rhinehart,' Pastor Cannon said. `I was afraid something like this would happen but I felt that you
ought to see for yourself how he acts.'
`You're absolutely right,' I said.
Where's one other thing,' said Pastor Cannon. `My wife and I were wondering whether it might be possible if .. . I
understand it is sometimes possible for a patient to have a single room. I came around my desk and walked up quite
close to Pastor Cannon, who still had an arm around his wife. `This is a Christian institution, Pastor,' I said. `We believe firmly in the brotherhood of all men. Your son will share a bedroom with fifteen other healthy, normal American mental patients. Gives them a feeling of belonging and togetherness. If your son feels the need for a single, have him slug an attendant or two, and they'll give him his own room: the state even provides a jacket for the occasion.'
His wife flinched and averted her eyes, but Pastor Cannon hesitated only a second and then nodded his head.
`Absolutely right. Teach the boy the realities of life. Now, about his clothing-'
`Pastor Cannon,' I said sharply. `This is no Sunday school. This is a mental hospital. Men are sent here when they refuse to play our normal games of reality. Your son has been sucked up by the wards; you'll never see him the same again, for better or worse. Don't talk so blithely about rooms and clothes; your son is gone.'
His eyes changed from momentary fright into a cold glare, and his arm fell from around his wife.
`I never had a son,' he said.
And they left.
When I got home, Lillian and Arlene Ecstein were collapsed side by side on the couch in their slacks and both were laughing as if they'd just finished splitting a bottle of gin. Arlene, by the way, always seems permanently eclipsed by the brilliant pinwheeling light of her husband: A little short from my six foot-four point of view, she usually looked prim and prudish with thick horn-rimmed glasses like Jake's and undistinguished black hair tied back in a bun. Although there were unconfirmed rumors that on her otherwise slender body she owned two marvelously full breasts, the baggy sweaters, men's shirts, loose blouses and over sized smocks she always wore resulted in no one's noticing her breasts until they'd known her for several months - by which time they'd forgotten all about her.
In her own sweet, simpleminded way I think she may once have given me a housewifely come-on, but being married, a dignified professional man, a loyal friend and having already forgotten all about her, I had resisted. (As I recall she spent one whole evening asking me to take pieces of lint off her smock: I spent the evening taking pieces of lint off her smock.) On the other hand, vaguely, late at night, after a hard day at the mental hospital, or when Lil and the children all had the 'flu or diarrhea or measles, I would feel regret at being married, a dignified professional man and a loyal friend. Twice I had daydreamed of somehow engulfing one entire Arlene breast in my mouth. It was clear that were fate ever to give me a reasonable opportunity - e.g. she were to climb naked into bed with me - I would yield; we would have one fine quick fire of first fornication and then settle into some dull routine of copulation on the q.t. But as long as the initiative were left to me I would never do anything about it. The two-thirds married professional man friend would always dominate the bored animal. And, as you, my friend, know, the combination would be miserable.
Although Lil's laugh was loud, even raucous, Arlene's was like a steady muffled machine-gun; she slumped lower on the couch as she laughed, while Lil stiffened her back and chortled at the ceiling.
`Well, what have you two been doing lately?' I asked, sliding my briefcase-under the desk and hanging my raincoat neatly in a puddle on the floor just inside the kitchen.
`We've just been splitting a bottle of gin,' Lil said happily.
`It was that or dope and we couldn't find any dope,' Arlene added. `Jake doesn't believe in LSD and Lil couldn't find yours.'
`That's strange. Lil knows I always keep it in the boy's toy cabinet.'
`I was wondering why Larry went off to school without a fuss this morning,' Lil said, and, having said something amusing, she stopped laughing.
`Well, what's the occasion? Is one of you getting divorced or having an abortion?'
I asked, fixing myself a martini from the still two-thirds full bottle of gin.
`Don't be silly,' Lil said. `We'd never dream of such high points. Our lives ooze. Not ooze excitement or sex appeal,
`Like vaginal jelly from a tube,' Arlene added.
They sat slumped on the couch looking grief-stricken for half a minute and then Lil perked up.
`We might form a Psychiatrists' Wives Invitational Club, Arlene,' she said. `And not invite Luke and Jake.'
`I would hope not,' I said and pulled a desk chair around and, straddling it theatrically, drink in hand, faced the females
`We could be charter members of PWIC,' Lil went on, scowling. `I can't quite figure out what good it will do us.'
Then she giggled. `Perhaps, though, our PWIC will grow bigger than yours,' and both women, after staring at me
pleasantly for a few seconds, began giggling stupidly.
`We could have our first social project by changing husbands for a week,' said Arlene.
`Neither of us would notice any difference,' Lil said.
That's not true. Jake brushes his teeth in a very original way, and I bet Luke has abilities I don't know about.'
`Believe me,' Lil said, `he doesn't'
`Sssss,' said Arlene. `You shouldn't show public contempt for your husband. It will bruise his ego.'
`Thank you, Arlene,' I said.
`Luke's an in-tell-i-gent man,' she managed to get out. `I'm not even a liberal arts woman, and he's studied .. he's
`Urine and stools,' completed Lil, and they laughed.
Why is it that I can lead my life of quiet desperation with complete poise, dignity and grace, while most women I
know insist on leading lives of quiet desperation which are noisy. I was giving the question serious thought when I noticed Lil and Arlene crawling toward me on their knees, their, hands clasped in supplication.
`Save us, O Master of the Stools, we're bored.'
`Give us the word!' It was good to be back in the quiet of home and fireside after a trying day with the mentally
`O Master, help us, our lives are yours.'
The effect of two crawling, begging, drunken women wiggling their way toward me was that I got an erection, not
professionally or maritally the most helpful response, but sincere. Somehow I felt that more was expected of a sage.
`Rise, my children,' I said gently and I myself now stood up before them.
`O. Master, speak!' Arlene said, on her knees.
`You wish to be saved? To be reborn?'
`You wish a new life?'
'Have you tried the new All with Borax?'
They collapsed forward in groans and giggles, but straightened quickly with a `We have, we have, but still no satori'
(from Lily, and `even Mr. Clean' (from Arlene).
`You must cease caring,' I said. `You must surrender everything. EVERYTHING.'
`Oh. Master, here, in front of your wife!' and they both giggled and fluttered like sparrows in heat.
`EVERYthing,' I boomed irritably. `Give up all hope, all illusion, all desire.'
`We've tried and still we desire.'
`We still desire not to desire and hope to be without hope and have the illusion we can be without illusions.'
`Give up, I say. Give up everything, including the desire to be saved. Become as weeds that grow and die unnoticed in
the fields. Surrender to the wind.'
Lillian suddenly stood up and walked to the liquor cabinet.
`I've heard it all before,' she said, `and the wind turns out to be a lot of hot air.'
`I thought you were drunk.'
'The sight of you preaching is enough to sober-anyone.' Arlene, still on her knees, said strangely, blinking through her
thick glasses, `But I'm still not saved. I want to be saved.'
'You heard him, give up.'
"That's all he offers. Can Jake do better?'
'No, but I can get a family discount with Jake.'
And they laughed.
`Are you two really drunk?' I asked.
'I am, but Lil says she wants all her faculties intact to stay one up on you. Jake's not home so I've giving my faculty a
`Luke never loses any of his faculties: they've all got tenure,' Lil said. `That's why they're all senile.'
Lil smiled a first bitter and then pleased-with-herself smile and raised a fresh martini in mock toast to my senile
faculties. With slow dignity I moved off to my study. There are moments even a pipe can't dignify.
The poker that evening was a disaster. Lillian and Arlene were exaggeratedly gay at first (their bottle of gin nearly empty) and, after a series of reckless raises, exaggeratedly broke thereafter. Lil then proceeded to raise even more recklessly (with my money), while Arlene subsided into a sensually blissful indifference. Dr. Mann's luck was deadening. In his totally bored, seemingly uninterested way, he proceeded to raise dramatically, win, bluff people out, win, or fold early and miss out on only small pots. He was an intelligent player, but when the cards went his way his blandness made him seem superhuman. That this blubbery god was crumbling potato chips all over the table was a further source of personal gloom, Lil seemed happy that it was Dr. Mann winning big and not I, but Dr. Felloni, by the vigor with which she nodded her head after losing a pot to him, also seemed vastly irritated.
At about eleven Arlene asked to be dealt out, and, announcing drowsily that losing at poker made her feel sexy and sleepy, left for her apartment downstairs. Lil drank and battled on, won two huge pots at a seven-card-stud game with dice that she liked to play, became gay again, teased me affectionately, apologized for being irritable, teased Dr. Mann for winning so much, then ran from the table to vomit in the bathtub.
She returned after a few minutes uninterested in playing poker. Announcing that losing made her feel a frigid insomniac, she retired to bed.
We three doctors played on for another half-hour or so, discussing Dr. Ecstein's latest book, which I criticized brilliantly, and gradually losing interest in poker. Near midnight Dr. Felloni said it was time for her to leave, but instead of getting a ride cross-town with her, Dr. Mann said he'd stay a little longer and take a taxi home. After she'd left, we played four final hands of stud poker and with joy I won three of them.
When we'd finished, he lifted himself out of the straight-backed chair and deposited himself in the overstuffed one near the long bookcase. I heard the toilet flush down the hall and wondered if Lil had been sick again. Dr. Mann drew out his pipe, stuffed and lighted it with all the speed of a slow-motion machine being photographed is slow motion, sucked in eternally at the pipe as he lit it and then, finally, boom, let loose a medium-megaton nuclear explosion up toward the ceiling, obscuring the books on the shelves beside him and generally astounding me with its magnitude.
`How's your book coming, Luke?' he asked. He had a deep, gruff, old man's voice.
`Not coming at all,' I said from my seat at the poker table.
`I don't think I'm on to much of value…'
'Un … Un. Huh.'
`When I began it, I thought the transition from sadistic to masochistic might lead to something important.'
I ran my finger over the soft green velvet of the poker table.
`It leads from sadism to masochism.' I smiled.
Puffing lightly and looking up at the picture of Freud hung on the wall opposite him, he asked `How many cases have you analyzed and written up in detail?'
`The same three?'
'The same three. I tell you, Tim, all I'm doing is un-interpreted case histories. The libraries are retching with them.'
I looked at him, he continued to look at Freud, and from the street below a police siren whined upward from Madison
`Why don't you finish the book anyway?' he asked mildly. `As your Zen says, go with the flow, even if the flow is
'I am going with the flow. My flow with that book has totally stopped. I don't feel like pumping it up again.'
I became aware that I was grinding a die into the green velvet. I tried to relax.
`By the way, Tim, I had my first interview with that boy you had sent to QSH for me. I found him-'
`I don't care about your patient at QSH, Luke, unless it's going to get into print.'
He still didn't look at me, and the abruptness of the remark stunned me.
`If you're not writing, you're not thinking,' he went on, `and if you're not thinking you're dead.'
I used to feel that way.'
`Yes you did. Then you discovered Zen.'
`Yes I did.'
`And now you find writing a bore.'
`And thinking too,' I said.
`Maybe there's something wrong with Zen,' he said.
`Maybe there's something wrong with thinking.'
`It's been fashionable among thinkers lately to say so, but saying, "I strongly think that thinking is nonsense," that
stems rather absurd to me.'
`It is absurd; so is psychoanalysis.'
He looked over at me; the crinkles around his left eye twitched.
`Psychoanalysis has led to more new knowledge of the human soul than all the previous two million years of thinking
put together. Zen has been around a long time and I haven't noticed any great body of knowledge flowing from it.' Without apparent irritability he let out another vigorous mushroom cloud toward the ceiling. I was fingering one of the dice, nervously pressing my fingers into the little dots; I still looked at him, he at Freud.
`Tim, I'm not going to argue the merits and demerits of Zen again with you. I've told you that whatever I've gained from Zen is not something I've been able to articulate.'
'What you've gained from Zen is intellectual anemia.'
`Maybe I've gained sense. You know that eighty percent of the stuff in the psychoanalytic journals is crap. Useless
crap. Including mine.'
I paused. `Including . . . yours.'
He hesitated, and then bubbled up a chuckle.
`You know the first principle of medicine: you can't cure the patient without a sample of his crap,' he said.
`Who needs to be cured?'
He turned his eyes lazily into mine and said: `You do.'
`You analyzed me. What's the matter?' I shot back stare for stare. .
`Nothing the matter that a little reminder of what life is all about won't cure.'
`Oh, piss,' I said.
`You don't like to push yourself, and along comes Zen and till you to "go with the flow".'
He paused and, still looking at me, dropped his pipe in an ashtray on the small table bide him.
`Your flow is naturally stagnant.'
`Makes a good breeding ground,' I said and tried to short laugh.
`For Christ's sake, Luke, don't laugh,' he said loudly. `You're wasting your life these days, throwing it away.'
`Aren't we all?'
`No, we're not. Jake isn't. I'm not. Good men in every profession aren't. You weren't, until a year ago.'
`When I was a child, I spoke like a child -'
`Luke, Luke, listen to me.'
He was an agitated old man.
`Come back to analysis with me.'
I rubbed the die against the back of my hand and, thinking nothing clearly, answered `No.'
`What's the matter with you?' he said sharply. `Why have you lost faith in the significance of your work? Will you
please try to explain?'
Without premeditation I surged up from my chair like a defensive tackle at the sight of a shot at the quarterback. I strode across the room in front of Dr. Mann to the big window looking along the street toward Central Park.
`I'm bored. I'm bored. I'm sorry but that's about it. I'm sick of lifting unhappy patients up to normal boredom, sick of trivial experiments, empty articles `These are symptoms, not analysis.'
`To experience something for the first time: a first balloon, a visit to a foreign land. A fine fierce fornication with a new woman. The first paycheck, or the surprise of first winning big at the poker table or the racetrack. The exciting isolation of leaning against the wind on the highway hitchhiking, waiting for someone to stop and offer me a lift, perhaps to a town three miles down the road, perhaps to new friendship, perhaps to death. The rich glow I felt when I knew I'd finally written a good paper, made a brilliant analysis or hit a good backhand lob. The excitement of a new philosophy of life. Or a new home. Or my first child. These are what we want from life and now … they seem gone, and both Zen and psychoanalysis seem incapable of bringing them back.'
`You sound like a disillusioned sophomore.'
`The same old new lands, the same old fornication, the same getting and spending, the same drugged, desperate, repetitious faces appearing in the office for analysis, the same effective, meaningless lobs. The same old new philosophies. And the thing I'd really pinned my ego to, psychoanalysis, doesn't seem to be a bit relevant to the problem.'
`It's totally relevant.'
`Because analysis, were it really an the right track, should be able to change me, to change anything and anybody, to eliminate all undesired neurotic symptoms and to do it much more quickly than the two years necessary to produce most measurable changes in people.'
`You're dreaming, Luke. It can't be done. In both theory and practice it's impossible to rid an individual of all his undesired habits, tensions, compulsions, inhibitions, what-have-you.'
`Then maybe the theory and practice are wrong.'
`We can perfect plants, alter machines, train animals, why not men?'
`For God's sake!' Dr. Mann tapped his pipe vigorously against a bronze ashtray and glared up at me irritably. `You're dreaming. There are no Utopias: There can be no perfect man. Each of our lives is a finite series of errors, which tend to become rigid and repetitious and necessary. Every man's personal proverb about himself is: "Whatever is, is right, in the best of all possible people."
The whole tendency is … the whole tendency of the human personality is to solidify into the corpse. You don't change corpses. Corpses aren't bubbling with enthusiasm. You spruce them up a bit and make them fit to be looked at.'
`I absolutely agree: psychoanalysis rarely breaks this solidifying flow of personality, it has nothing to offer the man who is bored.'
Dr. Mann harumphed or snorted or something and I moved away from the window to look up at Freud. Freud stared down seriously; he didn't look pleased.
'There must be some other.. other secret [blasphemy!] some other . .. magic potion which would permit certain men to radically alter their lives,' I went on.
`Try astrology, the I Ching, LSD.'
`Freud gave me a taste for finding some philosophical equivalent of LSD, but the effect of Freud's own potion seems
to be wearing off.'
`You're dreaming. You expect too much. A human being, a human personality is the total pattern of the accumulated
limitations and potentials of an individual. You take away all his habits, compulsions and channeled drives, and you
take away him.'
`Then perhaps, perhaps, we ought to do away with "him".'
He paused as if trying to absorb what I'd said and when I turned to face him, he surprised me by booming two quick
cannon shots of smoke out of the side of his mouth.
`Oh Luke you're nibbling on that Goddamn Eastern mysticism again. If I weren't a consistent self, a glutton at the
table, sloppy in dress, bland in speech and rigidly devoted to psychoanalysis, to success, to publication - and all of
these things consistently - I'd never get anything done, and what would I be?'
I didn't answer.
`If I sometimes smoked one way,' he went on, `sometimes another, sometimes not at all, varied the way I dressed, was
nervous, serene, ambitious, lazy, lecherous, gluttonous, ascetic - where would my "self" be? What would I achieve?
It's the way a man chooses to limit himself that determines his character. A man without habits, consistency,
redundancy - and hence boredom - is not human. He's insane.'
With a satisfied and relaxed grunt he placed his pipe down again and smiled pleasantly at me. For some reason I hated
`And accepting these self-defeating limitations is mental health?' I said.
I stood facing him and felt a strange rush of rage surge through me. I wanted to crush Dr. Mann with a ten-ton block
of concrete. I spat out my next words `We must be wrong. All psychotherapy is a tedious disaster. We must be making
some fundamental, rock-bottom error that poisons all our thinking. Years from now men will look upon our
therapeutic theories and our techniques as we do upon nineteenth-century bloodletting.'
`You're sick, Luke,' he said quietly.
`You and Jake are among the best and as humans you're both nothing.'
He was sitting erect in his chair.
`You're sick,' he said. `And don't feed me any more bull about Zen. I've been watching you for months now. You're not
relaxed. Half the time you seem like 'a giggly schoolboy and the other half like a pompous ass.'
`I'm a therapist and it's clear I, as a human, am a disaster. Physician heal thyself.'
'You've lost faith in the most important profession in the world because of an idealized expectation which even Zen
says is unrealistic. You've gotten bored with the day-to-day miracles of making people slightly better. I don't see
where letting them get slightly worse is much to be proud of.'
'I'm not proud of-'
`Yes you are. You think you've got absolute truth or at least that you alone are seeking it. You're a classic case of
Horney's: the man who comforts himself not with what he achieves but with what he dreams of achieving.'
I stated it flatly: it happened to be true. `But you, Tim, are a classic case of the normal human being, and I'm not impressed.'
He stared at me not puffing, his face Rushed, and then abruptly, like a big balloon bouncing, arose from his chair with a grunt.
`I'm sorry you feel that way,' he said and chugged toward the door.
`There must be a method to change men more radically than we've discovered-'
`Let me know when you find it,' he said.
He stopped at the door and we looked at each other, two alien worlds. His face showed bitter contempt.
`I will,' I said.
`When you find it, just give me a ring. Oxford 4-0300.'
We stood facing each other.
`Goodnight,' I said.
`Goodnight,' he said, turning. `Give my best to Lil in the morning. And Luke,' turning back to me, `try finishing Jake's book. It's always better to criticize a book after you've read it.'
`Goodnight' and he opened the door, waddled out, hesitated at the elevator, then walked on to the stairwell and disappeared.
After closing the door I walked mechanically back into the living room. At the window I stared at the few lights and at the empty early morning streets below. Dr. Mann emerged from the building and moved off toward Madison Avenue; he looked, from three floors up, like a stuffed dwarf. I had an urge to pick up the easy chair he had been sitting in and throw it through the glass window after him. Distorted images swirled through my mind: Jake's book lying darkly on the white tablecloth at lunch; the boy Eric's black eyes staring at me warmly; Lil and Arlene wriggling toward me; blank pieces of paper on my desk; Dr. Mann's clouds of smoke mushrooming toward the ceiling; and Arlene as she had left the room a few hours earlier; an open, sensuous yawn. For some reason I felt like starting at one end of the room and running full speed to the other end and smashing right through the portrait of Freud which hung there.
Instead I turned from the window and walked back and forth until I was looking up at the portrait. Freud stared down at me dignified, serious, productive, rational and stable: he was everything which a reasonable man might strive to be. I reached up and, grasping the portrait carefully, turned it around so that the face was toward the wall. I stared with rising satisfaction at the brown cardboard backing and then, with a sigh, returned to the poker table and put away the cards, chips and chairs. One of the two dice was missing but when I glanced at the floor it was not to be found. Turning to go to bed, I saw on the small table next to the chair Dr. Mann had been lecturing me from, a card - the queen of spades - angled as if propped up against something. I went over and stared down at the card and knew that beneath it was the die.
I stood that way for a full minute feeling a rising, incomprehensible rage: something of what Osterflood must feel, of what Lil may have been feeling during the afternoon, but directed at nothing, thoughtless, aimless rage. I vaguely re #161;member an electric clock humming on the mantelpiece. Then a fog-horn blast groaned into the room from the East River and terror tore the arteries out of my heart and tied them in knots in my belly: if that die has a one face up, I thought, I'm going downstairs and rape Arlene. `If it's a one, I'll rape Arlene,' kept blinking on and off in my mind like a huge neon tight and my terror increased. But when I thought if it's not a one Ill go to bed, the terror was boiled away by a pleasant excitement and my mouth swelled into a gargantuan grin: a one means rape, the other numbers mean bed, the die is cast. Who am I to question the die? I picked up the queen of spades and saw staring at me a cyclopean eye: a one.
I was shocked into immobility for perhaps five seconds, but finally made an abrupt, soldierly about-face and marched to our apartment door, opened it and took one pace outside, wheeled, and marched with mechanical precision and joyous excitement back into the apartment, down the hall to our bedroom, opened the door a crack and announced loudly: `I'm going for a walk, Lil.'
Turning, I marched out of the apartment a second time.
As I walked woodenly down the two flights of stairs I noticed rust spots on the railing and an abandoned advertising circular crumpled into a corner. `Think Big,' it urged. On the Ecstein floor I wheeled like a puppet, marched to the door of their apartment and rang. My next clear thought swept with dignified panic through my mind: `Does Arlene really take the pill?'
A smile colored my consciousness at the thought of Jack the Ripper, on his way to rape and strangle another woman, and worrying whether she was protected or not.
After twenty seconds I rang again.
A second smile (my face remained wooden) flowed through at the thought of someone else's already having discovered the' die and thus now busily banging away at Arlene on the floor just on the other side of the door.
The door unlatched and opened a crack.
`Jake?' a voice said sleepily.
`It's me, Arlene,' I said.
`What do you want?'
The door stayed open only a crack.
`I've come downstairs to rape you,' I said.
`Oh,' she said, `just a minute.'
She unlatched and opened the door. She was wearing an unattractive cotton bathrobe, possibly even Jake's, her black hair was straggling down her forehead, cold cream whitened her face, and she was squinting at me without her glasses like a blind beggar woman in a melodrama of the life of Christ.
Closing, the door behind me I turned toward her and waited, wondering passively what I was going to do next.
`What did you say you wanted?' she asked; she was groggy with sleep.
`I've come downstairs to rape you,' I replied and advanced toward her, she continuing to stand there with a widening and perhaps wakening look of curiosity. Feeling for the first time a faint hint of sexual desire, I put my arms around
her, lowered my head and planted my mouth on her neck.
Almost immediately I felt her hands pushing hard against my chest and soon a long-drawn-out `LuuuuUUke,' part
terror, part question, part giggle. After a good solid wet arousing kissing of her upper dorsal region I released her. She
stepped back a step and straightened her ugly bathrobe. We stared at each other, in our differently hypnotized states,
like two drunks confronting each other, knowing they are expected to dance.
`Come,' I found myself saying after our mutual moment of awe, and I put my left arm around her waist and began
drawing her toward the bedroom.
`Let go of me,' she said sharply and pushed my arm away.
With the mechanical swiftness of a superbly driven puppet my right hand slammed across her face. She was terror
stricken. So was I. A second time we faced each other, her face now showing a blotch of red on the left side. I mechanically wiped some cold cream off my fingers onto my trousers, then I reached out and took hold of the front of her robe and pulled her to me.
`Come,' I said again.
`Get your hands off Jake's bathrobe,' she hissed uncertainly.
I released her and said: `I want to rape you, Arlene. Now, this moment. Let's go.'
Like a frightened kitten she hunched down away from me with her hands tugging her robe at the throat. Then she
'All right,' she said, and with a look which I can only describe as righteous indignation, began to move past me down
the hall toward the bedroom, adding, `But you leave Jake's bathrobe alone.'
The rape was then consummated with a minimum of violence on my part, in fact with no great amount of imagination,
passion or pleasure. The pleasure was primarily Arlene's. I went through the appropriate motions of mouthing her breasts, squeezing her buttocks, caressing her labials, mounting her in the usual fashion and, after a longer time bucking and plunging than customary (I felt through the whole act like a puppet trained to demonstrate normal sexual intercourse to a group of slow teenagers), finished. She writhed and humped a few too many seconds longer and sighed. After a while she looked up at me.
`Why did you do it, Luke?'
`I had to, Arlene, I was driven to it.'
`Jake won't like it.'
`Ah. . . Jake?'
`I tell him everything. It gives him valuable material, he says.'
`But . . . this . . . have you been . . . raped before?'
'No. Not since getting married. Jake's the only one and he never rapes me.'
`Are you sure you have to tell him?'
`Oh yes. He'd want to know.'
`But won't he be tremendously upset?'
'Jake? No. He'll find it interesting. He finds everything interesting. If we'd committed sodomy that would be even more
'Arlene, stop being bitter.'
`I'm not bitter. Jake's a scientist.'
`Well, maybe you're right but-'
`Of course, there was that once…'
`That a colleague of his at Bellevue caressed one of my breasts with his elbow at a party and Jake split open his skull
with a bottle of . . . bottle of . . . was it Cognac?'
`Split his skull?'
`Brandy. And another time when a man kissed me under mistletoe, Jake, you remember, you were there, told the guy
`I'm remembering - so look, Arlene, don't be silly, don't tell Jake about tonight.'
She considered this.
`But if I don't tell him, it will imply I've done something wrong.'
`No. I've done something wrong, Arlene. And I don't want to lose Jake's friendship and trust just because I've raped
`He'd be hurt.'
`Yes he would. He wouldn't be objective. If he'd been drinking.'
`Yes he would.'
`I won't tell him.'
We exchanged a few more words and that was that. About forty minutes after arriving, I left. Oh, there was one other
incident. As I was leaving and Arlene and I were tonguing each other affectionately at the door to her apartment, she in a flimsy nightgown with one heavy breast plunging out and cupped in my hand, and I more or less dressed as when I entered, the sound of a key in the door suddenly split through our sensuality, we leapt apart, the apartment door opened and there stood Jacob Ecstein.
For what seemed like sixteen and a half minutes (possibly five or six seconds) he gave me that scrutinizing look through his thick glasses and then said loudly `Luke, baby, you're just the guy I want to see. My anal optometrist? He's cured. I did it. I'm famous.'
Back upstairs in my living room I stared dreamily at the exposed one on the die. I scratched my balls and shook my head in dazed awe. Rape had been possible for years, decades even, but was realized only when I stopped looking at
whether it were possible, or prudent, or even desirable, but without premeditation did it, feeling myself a puppet to a force outside me, a creature of the gods - the die - rather than a responsible agent. The cause was chance or fate, not me. The probability of that die being a one was only one in six. The chance of the die's being there under the card, maybe one in a million. My rape was obviously dictated by fate. Not guilty.
Of course I could simply have broken my verbal promise of following the dictates of the die. True? True. But a promise! A solemn promise to obey the die! My word of honor! Can we expect a professional-man, a member of PANY, to break his word because the die, with the odds heavily against it, determined rape? No, obviously not. I am clearly not guilty. I felt like spitting neatly into some conveniently located spittoon in front of my jury.
But on the whole it seemed a pretty weak defense, and I began vaguely hunting for a new one when I became ablaze at the thought: I am right: I must always obey the dice. Lead where they will, I must follow. All power to the die! Excited and proud, I stood for a moment on my own personal Rubicon. And then I stepped across. I established in my mind at that moment and for all time, the never-to-be-questioned principle that what the die dictates, I will perform.
The next moment was anticlimactic. I picked up the die and announced: `If it's a one, three or five, I'll to go bed; if its a two I'll go downstairs and ask Jake if I can try to rape Arlene again; if it's a four or a six I'll stay up and think about this some more.'
I shook the die violently in the cup of my two hands and flipped it, out onto the poker table, it rolled to a stop: five. Astonished and a bit let down, I went to bed. It was a lesson I was to learn many times in subsequent casts; the dive can show almost as poor judgment as a human.
By training I have learned to look for the casual insignificance of every overt cause. In the morning, after a caressless, buttockless period before breakfast, lukewarm coffee, and Lil's hungover imprecations, I wander into the living room to recreate the scene of the crime. Pacing back and forth I tried to demonstrate to myself that I would have gone down to Arlene whether the die had been a one, a four, or a box of matches. I remained unconvinced. I knew in my big hard-pumping heart that only the die could have pushed me down those stairs and into Arlene's entranceway.
I tried then to prove that I had seen the die that was on the side table before it had been covered with a card or at any rate before I made my solemn vow to commit holy rape if it turned out to have a one face up. I tried to determine who had left the card and die there and guessed it must have been Lil during her headlong flight to the bathroom. It seemed thus that I couldn't have known that it was a one. Had I seen from the angle of my chair the sides of the die and thus unconsciously known that the die must have turned upward either a one or a six? I walked over to the little table and tumbled a die onto it and, without looking at what came face up, covered the die with the queen of spades more or less as it had been covered the night before. I went back and sat at the poker table. From there, staring through my glasses, squinting, straining, trying with superhuman effort, I managed to make out the table and the slightly humped playing card. If there was a die under the card it was unpublished news as far as my eyes were concerned. For me to have seen the die from my chair at the poker table I would have had to have an unconscious with telescopic sight. The case was clear: I couldn't possibly have known what was under the queen of spades; my rape was determined by fate.
`What happened to the picture of Freud?' asked Lil, who had come in from the kitchen after turning the kids over to the maid.
Seeing that Freud's portrait was still facing the wall, I said `I don't know. I assumed you did that last night as you went to bed. A symbolic rejection of me and my colleagues.'
Lil, her messed blonde hair, reddish eyes and uncertain frown making her look unusually like a mouse approaching chase in a trap, looked at me suspiciously.
`I did it?' she asked, her mind stumbling over the events of last night.
`Sure. Don't you remember? You said something like "Now, Freud can look into the bowels of the house," and staggered off to the john.'
`I did not,' she said. `I strode with great dignity.'
`You're right. You strode with great dignity in a variety of directions.'
'But essentially I moved east'
`East and johnward.'
We laughed and I asked her to bring another cup of coffee and a doughnut to my study. Evie and Larry momentarily escaped from the clutches of the maid and swooped through the living room like two desperadoes shooting up a town and disappeared back toward the kitchen. I retreated to my home within my home: my old oaken desk in the study.
For a while I sat there throwing the two green dice across its scarred face and wondering what the events of the night before meant for me. My legs and loins felt heavy, my mind light, Last night I had done something I had vaguely felt like doing for two or three years. Having done it I was changed, not greatly, but changed. My life for a few weeks would be a little more complex, a little more exciting. Searching for a free hour to play with Arlene would while away time that in the recent past had been-spent not being able to work on my book, not being able to concentrate on my cases and daydreaming about stock market coups. The time might not be better spent, but I would be better entertained. Thanks to the die.
What else might the dice dictate? Well, that I stop writing silly psychoanalytic articles; that I sell all my stock, or buy all I could afford; that I make love to Arlene in our double bed while my wife slept on the other side; that I take a trip to San Francisco, Hawaii, Peking; that I bluff every time when playing poker; that I give up my home, my friends, my profession. After giving up my psychiatric practice I might become a college professor. .. a stockbroker . .. a real estate salesman .. Zen master … used-car salesman … travel agent … elevator fan. My choice of profession seemed suddenly infinite. That I didn't want to be a used-car salesman, didn't respect the profession, seemed almost a limitation on my pall, as idiosyncrasy.
My mind exploded with possibilities. The, boredom I had been feeling for so long seemed unnecessary. I pictured myself saving after each random decision.
`The die is cast,' and sloshing stoically across some new, ever wider Rubicon. If one life was dead and boring, so what? Long live a new life! But what new life? During the last months nothing had seemed worth doing. Had the die changed that? What specifically did I want to do? Well, nothing specific. But in general? All power to the dice! Good enough, but what might they decide? Everything.
Everything didn't turn out to be too much at first.
That afternoon the dice scorned all sorts of exciting options and steered me instead to the corner drugstore to choose reading matter at random. Admittedly, browsing through the four magazines chosen - Agonizing Confessions; Your Pro-Football Handbook; Fuck-it and Health and You - was more interesting than my usual psychoanalytic fare, but I vaguely regretted not having been sent by the dice on a more important or absurd mission.
Thai evening and the next day I seemed to avoid the dice. The result was that two nights after my great D-Day I lay in bed brooding about what to do with Arlene. I wanted, no doubt about it, to press her to my bosom once again, but the dangers, complications and comedy seemed almost too much to pay. I tossed and turned in indecision, anxiety and lust until Lil ordered me to take a sedative or sleep in the bathtub.
I rolled out of bed and retreated to my study. I was halfway through a complicated imaginary conversation with Jake in which I was explaining with great clarity what I was doing under his bed and pointing out the legal complications involved in homicide, when I realized with a rush of relief that I'd simply let the dice decide. Indecisive? Uncertain? Worried? Let the rolling ivory tumble your burdens away. $2.50 per pair.
I took out a pen and wrote out the numbers one to six. The first option to occur to my essentially conservative nature was to chuck the whole thing: I'd ignore my brief affair and treat Arlene as if nothing had happened. After all, the sporadic screwing of another man's wife might provide complications. When the woman is the wife of your Best Friend, nearest Neighbor, and closest Business Associate, the intrigue and betrayal are so complete that the end hardly seemed worth the effort. Arlene's end wasn't so different from Lil's that it justified painful hours of scheming as to how one might enter it in dice-dictated ways and painful hours of brooding about whether one should brood about having entered it. Nor were the convolutions of her soul likely to offer any more originality than those of her body.
Arlene and Jake had married seventeen years before when they were both juniors in high school. Jake had been a highly Precocious teenager and after seducing Arlene one summer, he found himself sexually inconvenienced in the fall when they were separated by his being away at Tapper's Boarding School for Brilliant Boys. Masturbation drove him to a fury of frustration since no daydream or self-caress remotely approached Arlene's round breasts cupped in his hands or filling his mouth. At Christmas he announced to his parents that he must either return to the public high school, commit suicide or marry Arlene. His parents brooded briefly between the last two of these options and then reluctantly permitted marriage.
Arlene was quite happy to leave school and miss her algebra and chemistry finals; they were married over the Easter holiday and she began working to help support Jake through his schools. Arlene's education had thus come from life; and since her life had been spent clerking at Gimbel's, girl-Fridaying at Bache and Company, typing at Woolworth's and controlling a switchboard at the Fashion Institute of Technology, her education was a limited one. In the seven years since she'd stopped working, she had devoted herself to philanthropic causes of which no one had ever heard (The Penny Parade for Puppies, Dough for Diabetes, Help Afghanistanian Sheepherders!), and reading lurid fiction and advanced psychoanalytic journals. It's not clear to what degree she understood any of her activities.
The day of his marriage was apparently the last time Jake had bothered to give a thought to the pursuit of women. He seemed to have acquired Arlene in the same spirit with which in later life he acquired a lifetime supply of aspirin, and, a little after that, a lifetime supply of laxatives. Moreover, just as the aspirin and laxative were guaranteed not to produce any annoying side effects, so too he saw to it that periodic use of Arlene would be free of such effects also. There was an ill-intended rumor that he had Arlene take the pill and use an inter-uterine device, a diaphragm and a douche, while he used a contraceptive, always used her anus anyway and then always practiced coitus interruptus. Whatever his methods, they had worked. They were childless, Jake was satisfied and Arlene was bored and longed to have a baby.
So my first option was clear: no more affair. Feeling rebellious I wrote as number two option, `I'll do whatever Arlene says we ought to do' (rather courageous in those days), number three I would attempt to re-seduce Arlene as soon as possible. Too vague. I'd try to reseduce her, hummm, obviously Saturday evening. (The Ecsteins were having a cocktail party.) Number four, I - I seemed to have exhausted the three obvious courses of action - no, wait, number four, I would say to her whenever I could get her alone that although I loved her beyond words, I felt that we should keep our love Platonic for the sake of the children. Number five, I would play it by ear and let my impulses dictate my behavior (another chicken's squawk). Number six, I would go to her apartment Tuesday afternoon (the next time I knew her to be alone) and more realistically rape her (i.e. no effort at softness or seduction).
I looked at the options, smiled happily and flipped a die four: Platonic love. Platonic love? How did that get in there? I was momentarily appalled. I decided that it was understood by number four that I might be dissuaded from Platonism by Arlene.
That Saturday evening Arlene greeted me at the door wearing a lovely blue cocktail dress I'd never seen before (neither had Jake) with a glass of Scotch and with a wide-eyed stare: representing awe, fright or blindness from being without her glasses. After handing me the Scotch (Lil was upstairs still dressing), Arlene fled to the other side of the room. I drifted over to a small group of psychiatrists led by Jake and listened to a consecutive series of monologues on methods of avoiding income taxes.
Depressed, I drifted after Arlene, poetry poised like cookie crumbs on my lips. She was yo-yoing from the kitchen-bar to her guests, smiling bigly and blankly, and then rushing away in someone's midsentence on the presumed pretense of getting someone a drink. I'd never seen her so manic. When I finally followed her into the kitchen one time she was staring at a picture of the Empire State Budding, or rather at the calendar beneath it with all the banking holidays squared in orange.
She turned and looked at me with the same wide-eyed awe, fear or blindness and asked in a frightening loud, nervous
voice `What if I'm pregnant?'
'Shhhh,' I replied.
`If I'm pregnant, Jake will never forgive me.'
`But I thought you took the pill every morning.'
`Jake tells me to but for the last two years, I've substituted little vitamin C tablets in my calendar clock.'
`Oh my God, when, when… Do you think you're pregnant?'
`Jake'll know I cheated on him and didn't take the pill.'
'But he'll think he's the father?'
`Of course, who else could be?'
`Well … uh…'
'But you know how he detests the thought of having children.'
'Yes I do. Arlene…'
`Excuse me, I've got to serve drinks.' She ran out with two martinis and returned with an empty highball glass.
`Don't you dare to touch me again,' she said as she began preparing another drink.
`Ah, Arlene, how can you say that? My love is like . . .'
`This Tuesday, Jake is going to spend all day at the Library annex working on his new book. If you dare try anything
like last night I'll phone the police.'
'Arlene . . .'
`I've checked their number and I plan to always keep the phone near me.'
'Arlene, the feelings I have for you are…'
`Although I told Lil yesterday that I'm going to Westchester to see my Aunt Miriam.'
She was off again with a full whiskey and two pieces of chewed celery, and before she returned again Lil had arrived and I was trapped in an infinite analysis with a man named Sidney Opt of the effect of the Beatles on American culture. It was the closest I came to poetry that night. I didn't even talk to Arlene again until, well, that Tuesday afternoon.
'Arlene,' I said, trying to rope in a scream as she pressed the door convincingly against my foot, `you must let me in.'
'No,' she said.
`If you don't let me in I won't tell you what I plan to do.'
'Plan to do?'
`You'll never know what I'm going to say.'
There was a long pause and then the door eased open and I limped into her apartment. She retreated decisively to the
telephone and, standing stiffly with the receiver in her hand with one finger inserted into presumably the first digit, she
said `Don't come any nearer.'
`I won't, I won't. But you really should hang up the phone.'
`If you keep it off the hook too long they'll disconnect the phone.'
Hesitantly she replaced the receiver and sat at one end of the couch (next to the telephone); I seated myself at the other
end. - After looking at me blankly for a few minutes (I was preparing my declaration of Platonic love), she suddenly
began crying into her hands.
`I can't stop yon,' she moaned.
`I'm not trying to do anything!'
'I can't stop you, I know I can't. I'm weak.'
'But I won't touch you.'
`You're too strong, too forceful…'
'I won't touch you.'
'She looked up.
'Arlene, I love you..-.'
`I knew it! Oh and I'm so weak.'
`I love you in a way beyond words.'
`You evil man.'
'But I have decided [I had become tight-upped with annoyance at her] that our love must always be Platonic.'
She looked at me with narrowed, resentful eyes: I suppose that it was her equivalent of Jake's penetrating squint, but it
made her look as if she were trying to read subtitles on an old Italian movie.
`Platonic?' she asked.
`Yes, it must always be Platonic.'
'Platonic.' She meditated.
`Yes,' I said, `I want to love you with a love that is beyond words and beyond the mere touch of bodies. With a love of
'But what'll we do?'
`We'll see each other as we have in the past, but now knowing we were meant to be lovers but that fate seventeen
years ago made a mistake and gave you to Jake.'
'But what'll we do?' She held the phone to her ear.
`And for the sake of the children we must remain faithful to our spouses and never again give into our passion.'
`I know, but what will we do?'
'Er . . . nothing . . . unusual.'
`Won't we see each other?'
'At least say we love each other?'
'Yes, I suppose so.'
'At least reassure me that you haven't forgotten?'
'Don't you like to touch me?'
'Ah Arlene yes, yes I do but for the sake of the children `What children?'
She was sitting on the couch, one arm in her lap and the other holding the telephone to her right ear. Her low-cut blue
cocktail dress which for some reason she was wearing again was making me feel less and less Platonic.
`But…'she seemed trying to find the right words. `How . .. how would your . . . raping me hurt your children?'
`Because - how would my raping you hurt my children?'
'It would . . . were I to touch the magic of your body again I might well never be able to return to my family. I might
have to drag you off with me to start a new life.'
Wide-eyed, she stared at me.
`You're so strange,' she added.
`Love has made me strange.'
`You really love me?'
`I have loved you … I have loved you since … since I realized how much there was hiding beneath the surface of your
outward appearance, how much depth and fullness there is to your soul.'
`I just don't understand it.'
She put the phone down on the arm of the couch and raised her hands again to her face, but she didn't cry.
'Arlene, I must go now. We must never speak of our love again.'
She looked up at me through her glasses with a new expression - one of fatigue or sadness, I couldn't tell.
I moved hesitantly away from the couch. She continued to stare at the spot I had vacated: `Seventeen years.'
`I thank you for letting me speak to you.'
She rose now and took off her glasses and put them next to the telephone. She came to me and put a trembling hand
on the side of my arm.
`You may stay,' she said.
`No, I must leave.'
`I'll never let you leave your children.'
`I would be too strong. Nothing could stop me.'
She hesitated, her eyes searching my face. `You're so strange.'
'Arlene, if only…'
She pulled my head down to hers and gave me her lips and mouth in a kiss.
`I won't be able to control myself,' I said.
`You must try,' she said dreamily. `I have sworn never to go to bed with you again.'
I have sworn on my husband's honor never to get into bed with you again.'
`I'll have to rape you.'
She looked up at me sadly. `Yes, I suppose so.'
During the first month the dice had rather small effect on my life. I used them to choose ways to spend my free time, and to choose alternatives when the normal `I' didn't particularly care. They decided that Lil and I would see the Edward Albee play rather than the Critic's Award play; that I read work x selected randomly from a huge collection; that I would cease writing my book and begin an article on `Why Psychoanalysis Usually Fails'; that I would buy General Envelopment Corporation rather than Wonderfilled Industries or Dynamicgo Company; that I would not go to a convention in Chicago; that I would make love to my wife in Kama-Sutra position number 23, number 52, number 8, etc.; that I see Arlene, that I don't see Arlene, etc.; that I see her in place x rather than place y and so on.
In short the dice decided things which really didn't matter. Most of my options tended to be from among the great middle way of my tastes and personality. I learned to like to play with the probabilities I gave the various options I would create. In letting the dice choose among possible women I might pursue for a night, for example, I might give Lil one chance in six, some new woman chosen at random two chances in six, and Arlene three chances in six. If I played with two dice the subtleties in probability were much greater.
Two principles I always took care to follow. First: never include an option I might be unwilling to fulfill; second: always begin to fulfill the option without thought and without quibble. The secret of the successful dicelife is to be a puppet on the strings of the die.
Six weeks after sinking into Arlene I began letting the dice diddle with my patients: it was a decisive step. I began creating as options that I comment aggressively to a patient as my insights arose; that I restudy some other standard analytic theory and method and adopt it for a specified number of hours with a patient; that I preach to my patients.
Eventually I began also to include as an option that I give my patients assigned psychological exercises much as a coach gives his athletes physical exercises: shy girl assigned to date make-out artist; aggressive bully assigned to pick a fight with ninety-eight-pound weakling and purposely lose; studious grind assigned to see five movies, go to two dances and play bridge a minimum of five hours a day all week. Of course, most meaningful assignments involved a breach of the psychiatrist's code of ethics. In telling my patients what to do, I was booming legally responsible for any ill consequences which might result. Since everything a typical neurotic does eventually has ill consequences, my giving them assignments meant trouble. It meant, in fact, the probable end of my career, a thought which for some reason I found exhilarating. I was like a professional psychiatrist, the very jockstrap of my basic self; I was becoming belly to belly with whim.
In the first few days the dice usually had me express freely my own feelings toward my patients - to break, in effect, the cardinal rule of all psychotherapy: do not judge. I began overtly condemning every shabby little weakness I could find in my sniveling, cringing patients. Great gob of God, that was fun. If you remember that for 'four years I had been acting like a saint, understanding, forgiving and accepting all sorts of human folly, cruelty and nonsense; that I had been thus repressing every normal reactive impulse, you can imagine the joy with which I responded to the dice letting me call my patients sadists, idiots, bastards, sluts, cowards and latent cretins. Joy. I had found another island of joy.
My patients and colleagues didn't seem to appreciate my new roles. From this date my reputation began to decline and
my notoriety to rise. My college professor of English at Yale, Orville Boggles, was the first troublemaker. A big, toothy man with tiny dull eyes, he had been coming to me off and on for six months to overcome a writing block. He hadn't been able to do more than sign his name for three years, and in order to maintain his academic reputation as a scholar he had been reduced to digging out term papers he had written as a sophomore at Michigan State, making small revisions and getting the articles published in quarterlies. Since no one read them past the second paragraph anyway, he hadn't been caught; in fact, on the basis of his impressive list of publications he had received tenure the year before he came to me.
I had been unenthusiastically working on his ambivalent feelings toward his father, his latent homosexuality and his
false image of himself, when under the impetus of the dictates of the dice I suddenly found myself one day exploding. `Boggles,' I said after he arrived one morning (I had always previously addressed him as Professor Boggles); `Boggles,' I said, `what say we cut the shit, and get down to basics? Why don't you consciously and publicly decide to quit writing?'
Professor Boggles, who had just lain down and hadn't yet said a word, quivered like a huge sunflower leaf at the first breath of a storm. `I beg your pardon?' `Why try to write?' 'It is a pleasure I have long enjoyed' `Merde.' 'He sat up and looked toward the door as if he expected Batman to break in any moment and rescue him. `I came to you, not because I am neurotic, but in order to cure a very simple writing block. Now -' `You are a patient who came with a cold and who is dying of cancer.'
`Now that you seem unable to cure the block you try to convince me not to write. I find this '
'You find this uncomfortable. But just imagine all the fun you could be having if you gave up trying to publish? Have
you looked at a tree in the last six years?'
`I've seen many trees. I want to publish, and I don't know what you think you're doing this morning.'
`I'm letting down the mask, Boggles. I've been playing the psychiatrist game with you, pretending we were after big
things like anal stage, object cathexis, latent heterosexuality and the like, but I've decided that you can only be cured
by being initiated into the mysteries behind the facade, into the straight poop, so to speak. The straight poop, that's
symbolism, Boggles, that's-'
`I have no desire to be initiated.'
`I know you don't. None of us do. But I'm letting you pay me thirty-five dollars per hour, and I want to give you your
money's worth. First of all, I want you to resign from the university and announce to your department chairman, the board of trustees and to the press that you are going to Africa to re-establish contact with your animal origins.'
'Of course it is. That's the point. Think of the publicity you'll get: "Yale professor resigns to seek Truth."
It'll get a lot more play than your last article in the Rhode Island Quarterly on "Henry James and the London Bus Service." Moreover-'
'But why Africa?'
`Because it has nothing to do with literature, academic advancement and full professorships: You won't be able to fool yourself that you're gathering material for an article. Spend a year in the Congo, try to get involved with a revolutionary group or a counterrevolutionary group, shoot a few people, familiarize yourself with the native drugs, let yourself get seduced by whatever comes alone, male, female, animal, vegetable, mineral. After that, if you still feel you want to write about Henry James for the quarterlies, I'll try to help you.'
He was sitting on the edge of the couch looking at me with nervous dignity. He said `But why should you want me to stop wanting to write?'
`Because as you are now, Boggles, and have been for forty-three years, you're a dead loss. Absolutely. I don't mean to sound critical, but absolutely. Deep down inside you know it, your colleagues know it and at all levels I know it. We've got to change you completely to make you worth taking money from. Normally I'd recommend that you have an affair with a student, but with your personality the only students who might open up for you would be worse off than you and no help.'
Boggles had stood up but I went serenely on.
`What you need is a more extensive personal experience with cruelty, with suffering, hunger, fear, sex. Once you've experienced more fully these basics there might be some hope of a major breakthrough. Until then none.'
Old Boggles had his overcoat on now and with a toothy grimace was backing toward the door.
'Good day, Dr. Rhinehart, I hope you're better soon,' he said.
`And a good day to you, Boggles. I wish I could hope the same for you, but unless you get captured by the Congolese rebels, or get sick in the jungle for eight months or become a Kurtzian ivory trader, I'm afraid there's not much hope.'
I rose from behind my desk to shake hands with him, but he backed out the door.
Six days later I got a polite letter from the president of the American Association of Practicing Psychiatrists (AAPP) noting that a patient of mine, a Dr. Orville Boggles of Yale, had paranoic hallucinations about me and had sent a long, nasty, highly literary complaint to the AAPP about my behavior. I sent a note to President Weinstein thanking him for his understanding and a note to Boggles suggesting that the length of his letter to the AAPP indicated progress vis-a #161;vis his writing block. I also gave him permission to try to have his letter published in the South Dakota Quarterly Review` Journal.
`Jerkins,' I said one morning to the masochist Milquetoast of Madison Avenue, `have you ever considered rape?'
`I don't understand,' he said.
`Forced carnal knowledge.'
`I . . . don't understand how you mean that I should consider it.'
`Have you ever daydreamed of killing someone or of raping someone?'
`No. No, I never have. I feel almost no aggression toward anyone.'
He paused. `Except myself.'
`I was afraid of that, Jerkins, that's why we'd better give serious consideration to rape, theft or murder.'
Jerkins lay neatly and quietly on the couch through this whole interview, not once raising his voice or stirring a
`You . . . you mean daydream about such actions?' he asked.
`I mean commit them. As it is, Jerkins, you're becoming just another dirty old man, aren't you?'
`Spend most of your time lying on your crumb-filled bed reading porno and fantasizing about lovely girls who need
you to save them. After they've narrowly missed being crushed by the landslide, or cut in two by the cultivator, or
stabbed by the lunatic or burnt by the fire, you rescue them and they give you a spiritual kiss on the fingertips, right?
But when do you reach a climax, Mr. Jerkins?'
`I . . . I don't know what . . . I don't understand?'
`Does the final pleasure come when you're comforting the rescued girl or when the flames are licking at her face, the
knife scraping along her veins, the cultivator about to mash her potatoes …? When?'
`But I want to help people. I feel no aggression. Ever.'
"Look, Jerkins,' I'm sated with your passivity, your day dreaming. Haven't you ever done anything?'
`No opportunity has ever `Have you ever hurt another human?'
'I can't. I don't want to. I want to save `First you've got to save yourself and that you can only do by breaking your
inertia. I'm giving you an assignment for our Friday session. Will you do it for me?'
`I don't know. I don't want to hurt people. My whole soul is based on that principle.'
`I know it is. I know it is, and your soul's sick, remember? That's why you're here.'
`Please, I don't want to rape any-'
`You've noticed I have a new receptionist. I mean a second one?'
[She was a middle-aged call girl I had hired expressly to date Mr. Jerkins.]
'Er, yes, I have.'
`She's lovely, isn't she?'
`Yes, she is.'
`And she's a nice person, too.'
'Yes,' he said.
`I want you to rape her.'
`Oh no, no, I, no, it would not be a good idea.'
`All right then, would you like to date her?'
`But . . . is it ethical?'
`What are you planning to do to her?'
`I mean . . . she's your receptionist . . . I thought-'
`Not at all. Her private life is her own business. [It certainly was.] I want you to date her. Tonight. Take her to dinner and invite her back to your apartment and see what happens. If you get the urge to rape her, go ahead. Tell her it's part of your therapy.'
'Oh, no, no, I'd never want to do anything to hurt her. She seems such a lovely person.'
'She is, which makes her all the more rapable. But have it your own way. Just do your best to fuel aggression.'
'Do you really think it might help if I got a little aggressive?'
`Absolutely. Change your whole life. With hard work you `might even make it to murder. But don't brood if at first all you can do is swear under your breath at pedestrians.'
I stood up. `Now go. You'll need a couple of minutes to wheedle Rita into accepting a date.'
It took him twenty, despite Rita's trying to say `yes' from the moment he told her his name. After three and a half weeks of Jerkins-style courting he finally managed to seduce her in the front seat of his Volkswagen, much to the relief of all concerned. To the further relief of the principals, they shifted to Jenkins's apartment for further indoor work. The only evidence I was able to garner that Jerkins was trying to express aggression was that once he accidentally bumped her nose with his elbow and didn't say he was sorry. Rita toed the old game of `Oh you're so masterful, hit me,' but Jerkins responded by assuring her that no matter how masterful he was he would never hit anyone. She urged him to bite her breasts, but he said something about having weak gums. She tried to irritate him into anger by using her body to arouse him and then deny the desires she had aroused, but Jerkins sulked until she gave in.
Meanwhile he was trying every trick in the masochist's trade to try to make Rita break off with him. He stood her up on two occasions (Rita sent a bill for her time), accidentally broke her wristwatch (I got the bill) and as a lover usually had his orgasm when she was least expecting it and in the middle of a yawn. Nevertheless, Rita clung lovingly - three hundred dollars a week - on.
At the end of a month of solid success with her, Jerkins was definitely more comfortable with women; he even flirted for five minutes with Miss Reingold. But he was also perilously close to a total nervous breakdown. Being unable to contact a venereal disease, make Rita pregnant, infuriate her, cause her to leave him or fail in any other obvious way, he was desperate. Of course, he'd compensated by accelerating the rate of failure in all other areas of his life. Twice he lost his wallet. He left the water in the bathtub running while he was out and flooded his apartment. Finally, one day he told me he'd lost so much money on the stock market since taking over his own investing, that he'd have to drop therapy.
I urged him to continue, but that afternoon he managed to get hit by a bulldozer while watching some construction and was hospitalized for six weeks. A few months later the dice told me to send him a bill for Rita's services and, I regret to report, he promptly paid it. I've tentatively listed his case as a failure.
Other cases didn't work out too well either. With a woman plagued by compulsive promiscuity I tried the William James method number three for breaking habits: oversatiation. I convinced her to work at a busy Brooklyn brothel for a week, figuring that would be enough to drive anyone to chastity, but she stayed a month. With the money she earned she hired one of her male customers to accompany her on a vacation to Puerto Vallarta. I haven't seen her since, but have tentatively listed her case as a failure also.
My analytic sessions became role-playing sessions without the dice. But instead of restricting such role playing to drama and play as in Moreno-like drama therapy, I restricted it to real life. Everything had to be done with real people in real life.
In most cases over the next five months I assigned my patients to quit their jobs, leave their spouses, give up their hobbies, habits and homes, alter their religions, upset their sleeping, eating, copulation, thinking habits: in brief, to rediscover their unexpressed desires; to achieve their unfulfilled potential. But all this without telling them about the dice.
Without introducing the patients to the use of the dice as in my later dice therapy, the results, as you have begun to see, were generally disastrous. In addition to two lawsuits, one patient committed suicide (thirty-five dollars an hour out of the window), one was arrested for leading to the delinquency of a minor, and a last disappeared at sea in a sailing canoe on his way to Tahiti. On the other hand, I had a few distinct successes.
One man, a highly paid advertising executive, gave up his job and family and joined the Peace Corps, spent two years in Peru, wrote a book on faking land reform in underdeveloped countries, a book highly praised by everyone except the governments of Peru and the United States, and is now living in a cabin in Tennessee writing a book on the effects of advertising on underdeveloped minds. Whenever he's in New York he drops in to suggest I write a book about the underdeveloped psyches of psychiatrists.
My other successes were less obvious and immediate.
There was Linda Reichman, for example. She was a slender, young rich girl who had spent her last four years living in Greenwich Village doing all the things rich, emancipated girls think they're expected to do in Greenwich Village. In four weeks of treatment prior to my own emancipation, I had learned that this was her third analysis, that she loved to talk about herself, particularly her promiscuity, with indifference to and cruelty toward men, and their stupid ineffectual efforts to hurt her. Her monologues were occasionally flooded by literary, philosophical and Freudian allusions and as abruptly empty of them. Each session she usually managed to say something intended to shock my bourgeois respectability.
It was only three weeks after letting the dice dictate anarchy that I had a rather remarkable session with her. She'd come in even more keyed up than usual, swivel-hipped her rather swivelable hips across the room and flopped aggressively onto the couch. Much to my surprise she didn't say a thing for three minutes, for her an all-time record. Finally, with an edge to her voice, she said: `I get so sick and tired of this . . . shit. [Pause] I don't know why I come here. [Pause] You're about as much help as a chiropractor. Christ, what I'd give to meet a MAN some day. I meet nothing but … ball-less masturbators. [Pause] What a … stupid world it is. How do people get through their crummy lives? I've got money, brains, sex - I'm bored stiff. What keeps all those little clods without anything, what keeps all those little clods going? [Pause] I'd like to blast the whole thing … fucking city to pieces. [Long pause.]'
`I spent the weekend with Curt Rollins. For your info, he's just published a novel that the Partisan Review calls - and I quote - "as stunningly poetic a piece of fiction as has appeared in years." Unquote. [Pause] He's got talent. His prose is like lightning: cutting, darting, brilliant; he's a Joyce with the energy of Henry Miller. [Pause] He's working on a new novel about fifteen minutes in the life of a young boy who's just lost his father. Fifteen minutes - a whole novel. Curt's cute, too. Most girls throw themselves at him. [Pause] He needs money. [Pause] It's funny, he doesn't seem to like sex much. Wham bam, back to the old writing board. Wham-bam. [Pause] He liked the way I sucked him off though. But . . .
`I'd like to chop his hands off. Chop, chop. Then he could dictate his novel to me. [Pause] Chop his hands off: I suppose that means I want to castrate him. Could be. I don't think it would bother him much. I think he'd consider it gave him more time for his precious writing, his all-important fifteen minutes in the life of a little prick. [Pause] "Stunning novel" - Jesus, it had the grace of late Herman Melville and the power of a dying Emily Dickinson. You know what it was about? A sensitive young man who discovers that his mother is having an affair with the man that's teaching him to love poetry. Sensitive young man despairs. "Oh Shelley, why has thou forsaken me?"
[Pause] He's another ball-less masturbator. [pause] `You sure are quiet today. Can't you even throw in a few uhhuhs or yesses? I'm paying you forty bucks an hour, remember? For that I should get at least two or three yesses a minute.'
`I don't feel like it today.'
`You don't feel like it today? Who cares? You think I feel like spilling out my garbage three days a week? Come on Dr. Rhinehart, you've gotta like it. The world is built on the principle that all humans must eat shit regardless of taste: Come on, speak up. Act like a psychiatrist. Let's hear that faithful echo.'
`Today I'd like to hear what you'd like to do if you could recreate the world to suite your own . . . highest dreams.'
`Cut the crap: I'd turn it into a great big testicle, what else?'
[Pause] [Longer pause] `I'd . . . I'd eliminate all the human beings first . . . except . . . eh … maybe for a few. I'd destroy everything man has ever made, EVERYTHING, and I'd put - all the animals would still be there - No. No, they wouldn't. I'd eliminate all of them too. There'd be grass though, and flowers. [Pause] `I can't picture the humans. [Pause] I can't even picture me. I must have got wiped out. Ha! Woo. My highest dream is of as empty world. Boy, that's something. The little lays at Remo's would love that. But where are they in this world of mine? They're gone too. An empty, empty, empty world.'
`Can you imagine a human being that you would like?'
`Look, Doctor, I detest humans. I know it. Swift detested them, Mark Twain detested them. I'm in good company. It takes clods to appreciate clods, herd to appreciate herd. Whatever I am, I've got enough on the ball to realize that the best of humans is either weak or a phony. You too, obviously. In fact, you psychiatrists are the biggest phonies of all.'
`Why do you say that?'
`Your phony code of ethics. You hide behind it. I've sat here for four weeks telling you about my stupid, cruel, promiscuous, senseless behavior and you sit back there nodding away like a puppet and agreeing with everything I say. I've twitched my butt at you, flashed a little thigh, and you pretend you don't know what I'm doing. You acknowledge nothing except what I put into words. All right; I'd like to feel your prick. [Pause] And now the good doctor will say with his quiet asinine voice, "You say you'd like to feel my prick," and I'll say "Yes, it all goes back to when I was three years old and my father…" and you'll say "You feel the desire to feel my prick goes back…" and we'll both go right on acting as if the words didn't count.'
Miss Reichman briefly paused and then raised herself on her elbows and without looking at me, spat, clearly and profusely, in a high arc, onto the rug in front of my desk.
`I don't blame you: I've been acting like as automaton. Or, more concretely, an ass.'
Miss Reichman sat up on the couch and turned from the waist to stare at me.
`What did you say?'
`You feel you don't know what I said?'
But as I said this I put on a mock psychiatrist face and tried to grin intimately.
`Holy shit, there's a human being in there after all. [Pause] Well. Say something else. I've never heard you say anything
'Well, Linda, I'd say it was time to end non-directive therapy. Time you heard some of my feelings about you. Right?'
'That's what I just said.'
`First, I think we'd better acknowledge that you're outstandingly conceited. Second, that sexually you may offer much
less than many women, since you are thin, with, to judge by superficial appearances only, a smallish bosom necessitating falsies [she sneered], and you probably bring the male racing to a climax before he's got his fly totally unzipped. Thirdly; that intellectually you are extremely limited in the depth and breath of your reading and understanding. In summation, that as human beings go you are mediocre in all respects except in the quantity of your fortune. The number of men you've slept with and who've proposed as well as propositioned, is a reflection of the openness of your legs and of your wallet, not of your personality.'
Her sneer had expanded until it had nowhere else to go on her face and so spread to her shoulders and back, which writhed theatrically away from me in disdain. By the time I finished, her face was flushed and she spoke with an exaggerated slowness and serenity.
`Oh poor poor Linda. Only big Lukie Rhinehart can save cesspool soul from hardening into concrete shit. [She abruptly changed pace] You conceited bastard. Who do you think you are sounding off about me? You don't know me at all. I haven't told you anything about myself except a few sensational superficialities. And you judge me by these.'
`Do you want to show me your breasts?'
`Do you have some essays, or stories or poems, or paintings that you can show me?'
'You can't judge a person by measurements or by essays. When I make love to a man they don't forget it. They know
they've had a woman, and not some fluffed-up iceberg. And you'll hide behind your precious ethics and fuel superior because all you see is the surface.'
`What other good qualities do you have?'
`I call a spade a spade. I know. I'm not perfect and I say so, and I've learned that you psychiatrists are priggish little
voyeurs and I tell you, and that's why you all end up attacking me. You can't stand the truth.'
`My ethics kept me from making love to you?'
`Yes, unless you're a fairy, like another headshrinker I knew.'
`Let me then formally announce that in my future relations with you I will not seek to maintain the traditional patient
doctor relationship and I will not abide by the standard of ethics set down in the code of the American Association of Practicing Psychiatrists. From now on I shall respond to you as human to human. As psychiatrist human I will advise you, but no more. How's that?'
Linda shifted her feet to the floor and looked over at me with a slow smile, meant to suggest sexiness? She was, in fact, reasonably sexy. She was slender, clear-complexioned, full-lipped. As long as she had been my patient, however, I had not responded to her sexually one millimeter, or to any other female patient in five years, despite writhings, declarations, propositions, strippings and attempted rapes - all of which had occurred during one session or another. But the doctor-patient relationship froze my sexual awareness as completely as doing fifty push-ups under a cold shower. Looking at Linda Reichman smile and perceptibly arch her back and project her (true or false?) bosom, I felt my loins, for the first time in my analytic history, respond.
Her smile slowly curled into a sneer.
`It's better than you were, but that's not saying much.'
`I thought you wanted to feel my prick.'
`I can't be bothered.'
`In that case, let's get back to you. Lie down again and let your mind go.'
`What do you mean, lie down again. You just said you were going to be human. Humans don't talk to each other with their backs to each other.'
'True. So go ahead, we'll talk . . . eyeball to eyeball.'
She looked at me again and her eyes narrowed slightly and her upper lip twitched twice. She stood up and faced me. The light from my desk picked up a light perspiration on her face, which revealed this time no suggestive smile #161;although one may have been intended - but rather a tense grimace. She roved slightly toward me, unbuttoning her skirt at the side as she approached.
`I think maybe it would be good for both of us - if we got to know each other physically. Don't you?'
She came to the chair and let her skirt fall to the floor. Her half-slip must have gone with it. She had on white silk bikini panties but no stockings. Sitting down in my lap (the chair tipped back another three inches with an undignified squeak), .her eyes half closed, she looked up into my face and said drowsily; 'Don't you?'
Frankly, the answer was yes. I had a fine erection, my pulse was forty percent, my loins were being activated by all the requisite hormones and my mind, as nature intended it in such cases, was functioning vaguely and without energy. Her lips and tongue came wetly against and into my mouth, her fingers along my neck and into my hair. She was role-playing Brigitte Bardot and I was responding accordingly. After a prolonged, satisfactory kiss, she stood up, and with a set, drowsy, mechanical half-smile removed, item by item, her blouse, bra (she hadn't needed falsies), bracelet, wristwatch and panties.
Since I continued to sit with a blissfully unplanned and idiotic expression, she hesitated, and sensed that somewhere about now was my cue to embrace her passionately, carry her to the couch and consummate our union. I decided to miss the cue. After this brief hesitation (her now wet upper lip twitched once), she knelt down beside me and fingered my fly. She undid the belt, a hook and lowered the zipper. Since I didn't move one millimeter (voluntarily) she had trouble extricating her desired object from my boxer undershorts. When, she had succeeded in freeing him from his cage, he stood with dignified stiffness, trembling slightly, like a young scholar about to have a doctoral hood lowered over his head. (The rest of me was cold and immobile as the code of ethics of AAPP encourages us.) She leaned forward to put her mouth over it.
`Did you ever see the movie, The Treasure of Sierra Madre?' I asked.
She stopped, startled, then closing her eyes completely, drew my penis into her mouth.
She did what intelligent women, do in such cases. Although the warmth of her mouth and the pressure of her tongue produced predictable feelings of euphoria, I found I was not much mentally excited by what was happening. That mad scientist dice man was looking at everything too hard.
After what began to seem like an embarrassingly long time (I sat mute, dignified, professional through it all), she rose up and whispered. `Take off your clothes and come.'
She moved nicely to the couch and lay down on her stomach with her face to the wall.
I felt that if I sat immobile any longer she would snap out of it and become angry, get dressed and demand her money back. I had seen her in two roles, sex kitten and intellectual bitch. Was there some sort of third Linda? I walked over (my left hand pants clutching) to the couch and sat down. Linda's white, nude body looked cold and babyish against the formal brown leather. Her face was turned away but my weight on the side of the couch let her know I had arrived.
Whatever limitations Linda might have as a human being seemed adequately compensated for by a round and apparently firm posterior. Her instinct - or probably her well-learned habit - of stuffing her buttocks at an obviously aroused man seemed correct. My hand actually arrived within two and one-quarter inches of that flesh before the mad scientist in the London fog got the message through.
`Roll over,' I said. (Get her best weapon aimed elsewhere.) She rolled slowly over, reached up two white arms and pulled my neck down until our mouths met. She began to groan authoritatively. She pressed first her mouth hard against mine and then, somehow getting me to lift my legs up on the couch beside hers, pressed her abdomen hard into mine. She tongued, writhed, groaned and clutched with intelligent abandon. I just lay, wondering not too acutely what to do.
Apparently I had missed another cue, because she broke our kiss and pushed me slightly away. For an instant I thought she might be abandoning her role, but her half-closed eyes and twisted mouth told me otherwise. She had parted her legs and was reaching for potential posterity.
`Linda,' I said quietly. (No nonsense about movies this time.) `Linda,' I said again. One of her hands was playing Virgil to my Dente and trying to lead him into the underworld, but I held Dente back. `Linda,' I said a third time.
`Put it in,' she said.
`Linda, wait a minute.'
`What's the matter; put it in.'
She opened her eyes and stared up, not seeming to recognize me.
`Linda, I've got my period.'
Now why I said that Freud certainly knows, but searching for absurdity I had said it, and, realizing its psychoanalytic meaning, I felt quite shamed.
Linda either hadn't read Freud or didn't care; she was, I saw regretfully, on the verge of passing from Bardot to bitch without any intermediate third Linda.
She blinked once, started to say something which came out as a snort, twitched her upper lip three, four times, half closed her eyes again, groaned and said, `Oh come, please come into me, now. Now.'
Although her hands weren't pulling, my stallion responded to those words with enthusiasm and had galloped to within one and one eighth inches of the valley of the stars when the mad scientist pulled the reins.
`Linda, there's something I'd like you to do, first,' I said (What? What? For God's sake, what?) This was, in fact, the perfect statement: she couldn't tell whether it was something sexual I wanted her to do, in which case she could revel in her Bardot role, or something impractical having to do with my being a psychiatrist. Curiosity, stronger than Bardot or bitch, looked out of fully open eyes.
`What?' she asked.
`Lie here just as you are without moving, and close your eyes.'
She looked at me - our bodies were separated by only three or four inches and one of her hands was still pulling me
toward the great melting pot - and again she was neither Bardot nor bitch. When she sighed, let go of me and closed
her eyes, I eased myself to a seat on the edge of the couch again.
Try to relax,' I said.
Her eyes shot open and her head jerked up like a doll's.
`What the, bell do I want to relax for?'
Please, for me, do this … one thing. Lie there in your full beauty and let your arms, legs, face, everything relax. Please.'
`What for? You're not relaxed.' And she laughed coldly at my denied, deprived, but still unbending middle leg. `Please, Linda, I want you. I want to make love to you, but first I want to caress you and kiss you and I want you to receive my love without - with complete relaxation. I know it's impossible, so I'll suggest a way you might do it. I want you to think of - a little girl picking flowers in a field.. Can you do that?'
Bitch glared up at me.
`If you do it, you may - if you follow my instructions you may be in for a surprise. If I come into you now, neither of
us will learn anything,' I brought my face dramatically down to within a few inches of hers. `A little girl picking
flowers in a totally lush, green, beautiful but deserted field. Do you see that?'
She-glared a moment longer, then lowered her head to the couch and closed her legs together. Two or three minutes
passed. Very distantly I could hear Miss Reingold's typewriter tit-tatting away.
`I see a little kid picking /tiger lilies near a swamp.'
`Is the little girl a pretty girl?'
[Pause] `Yeah, she's pretty.'
`Parents - what are this little girl's parents like?'
`There are little field daisies too, and lilac bushes.'
[Pause] 'The parents are bastards. They beat the kid . . . the little gig. They buy long necklaces and they whip her with
them. They tie her up with linked bracelets. They give her poison candy, which makes her sick, and then they force her to drink her own vomit. They never let the girl be alone. Whenever she goes to the fields, where she is now, they beat her when she comes home.'
(I didn't say a word, but the impulse to say `and they beat her when she comes home' had the strength of Hercules.)
There was a long pause.
They beat her with books. They hit her on the head again and again with books. They stick pins and pencils in her. And tacks. When they're done with her they throw her in the cellar.'
Linda was not relaxed; she wasn't crying; she seemed her bitchy self essentially, complaining against the parents but not able to feel sorry for the little girl. She felt only bitterness.
`Look very closely at the little girl in the fields, Linda. Look very closely at her.
[Pause] The little girl-?'
[Pause] `The little girl . . . is crying.'
`Why is the little . . . does she have . . . does the girl have any flowers?'
'Yes, she has It's a rose, a white rose. I don't know where. . .'
[Pause] `What is she . . . how, does she feel toward the white rose?'
The white rose is the only . . thing in the world which alms can talk to, the only thing that . . . loves her . . . She holds the flower in front of her eyes by the stem and she talks to it and . .. no . . . she doesn't even hold it. It floats to her . . . like magic, but she never, not once ever, touches it, and she never kisses it. She looks at it and it sees her and in those moments . . . in those moments … the little girl … is happy, The white rose, with the white rose … she is happy.'
After another minute Linda's eyes blinked open. She looked over, at me, at my wilted penis, at the walls, the ceiling. A buzzer sounded for what I now realized may have been the third or fourth time and I started.
`The hour's up,' she said dazedly and then added: `What a funny, stupid story,' but without bitterness, dreamily.
Except for the silent restoration of our clothing, the session was over.
During these first months of diceliving I never consciously decided to let the dice take over my whole life or to aim at becoming an organism whose every act was determined by the dice. The thought would have frightened me then. I tended to restrict, my options so that Lil and my colleagues wouldn't begin to suspect that I was into anything slightly unorthodox. I kept my shimmering green cubes hidden carefully 'from everyone, consulting them surreptitiously when necessary. But I found myself adapting quickly to following the die's sporadic whims. I might resent a particular command, but like a well-oiled automaton I went and did the job.
The dice sent me to bars scattered throughout the city to sit, sip, listen, chat. They picked out strangers to whom I was sent to talk. They chose roles that I played with these strangers. I would be a veteran outfielder with the Detroit Tigers in town for a Yankee series (Bronx bar), English reporter with the Guardian (the Barbizon Plaza), playwright homosexual, alcoholic college professor, escaped criminal and so on. The dice determined that I try to seduce stranger chosen at random from the phone book of Brooklyn (actually Mrs. Anna Maria Sploglio was the lucky lady and she totally repulsed me. Thank God); that I try to borrow ten dollars from stranger `X' (another failure); that I give twenty dollars to stranger `Y' (he threatened to call the police, then took the money and ran, not walked, away). In bars, restaurants, theaters, taxis, stores - whenever out of sight of those who knew me - I was soon never myself, my old `normal self.'
I went bowling. I signed up at Vic Tanny's to muscle my middle. I went to concerts, baseball games, sit-ins, open parties; anything and everything that I had never done, I now created as options, and the dice threw me from one to the other - and rarely the same man from day to day.
New places and new roles forced me into acute awareness of how others were responding to me. When a human is being himself, flowing with his inner nature, wearing his natural appropriate masks, integrated with his environment, he is normally unaware of subtleties in another's behavior. Only if the other person breaks a conventional pattern is awareness stimulated. However, breaking my established patterns was threatening to my deeply ingrained selves and pricked me to a level of consciousness which is unusual, unusual since the whole instinct of human behavior is to find environments congenial to the relaxation of consciousness. By creating problems for myself I created thought.
I also created problems.
Although I tried to act so I would always give Lil a `rational' explanation for my eccentricities, I let the dice increasingly determine what kind of a father and husband I would be, especially during the three weeks Lil, Larry, Evie and I (for three-day weekends) spent in our rented farmhouse on eastern Long Island.
Now historically, my friends, I had been a withdrawn, somewhat absentee father. My contacts with my two children had consisted primarily of: (a) yelling at them to stop yelling when I was on the telephone in the living room; (b) yelling at them to go play someplace else when I wanted to make love to Lil during the day; (c) yelling at them to obey their Mommy when they were most blatantly disobeying their Mommy; (d) yelling at Larry for being stupid when trying to do math homework.
There were times when I would not yell at them, it is true. Whenever I was daydreaming about something (`Rhinehart Discovers Missing Link in Freudian Theory!' 'Sophia Loren to Divorce Ponti for NY Psychiatrist,' `Incredible Stock Market Coup by M.D. Amateur'), or thinking about something (how to discover missing link, win Miss Loren, make a coup) I would talk calmly to the children about whatever it was they felt like talking about (`That's a beautiful painting, Larry, especially the chimney.' Lil `That's a ballistic missile.'), and even, upon occasion, play with them. (`Bam bam, I got you Daddy.' I collapse to the floor. `Oh, Daddy, you're only wounded.')
I liked my kids but primarily as potential Jungs, Adlers and Anna Freuds to my Sigmund. I was much too wrapped up in being a great psychiatrist to compete in the game of being a father. My paternal behavior manifested flaws.
Among the alternatives which I gave the dice to consider were some which expressed the fond father buried deep within, and others which gave full rein to the not so benevolent despot: On the one hand the dice twice determined that I pay extra attention to my children, that I spend a minimum of five hours a day with them for each of three days. (Such devotional! Such sacrifice) Mothers of the world, what would you give to spend only five hours a day with your children?)
In September one day, after breakfast in the big old kitchen with white cupboards and built-in sunshine in the big old farmhouse on the big plot surrounded by big trees and bright, flowing fields of poison ivy, I asked the children what they wanted to do that day.
Larry eyed me from his seat by the toaster. He had short red pants, white (in places) T-shirt, bare feet, built-in scratches and scabs on both chubby legs and bleached yellow hair hiding most of his suspicious frown.
'Play,' he answered.
'I already took out the garbage yesterday.'
'I'd like to play with you today. What do you plan to do?'
From her seat Evie looked at Larry wondering what they were going to do.
'You want to play with us?'
'You won't hog the dump truck?'
'No. I'll let you be the complete boss.'
'Hooray, let's go play in the sand.'
The sand was actually the farmer's plowed field, which rectangled the farmhouse on three and a half sides. There,
winding in an intricate maze among the green explosions of cabbage, was a road system to put Robert Moses to
shame. For an hour I traveled in a 1963 pickup truck (Tonka, 00 h.p., .002 c.c. engine, needed new paint job) over
these roads. There was frequent criticism that I wrecked too many secondary roads while maneuvering my bulk down
tertiary roads, and that tunnels that had been standing for years through cyclones and hurricanes (three and a half days
through one brief shower) had collapsed under the weight of my one errant elbow. Otherwise the children enjoyed my
presence, and I enjoyed the earth and them. Children are really quite nice once you get to know them.
They're more than nice.
'Daddy,' Larry said to me later that day when we were lying in the sand watching the surf of the Atlantic come rolling
on to Westhampton Beach, 'why does the ocean make waves?'
I considered my knowledge of oceans, tides and such, and decided on `Wind.'
`But sometimes the wind doesn't blow, but the ocean always makes waves.'
`It's the god of the sea breathing.'
This time he considered.
`Breathing what?' he asked.
'Breathing water. In and out, in and out.'
'In the middle of the ocean.'
'How big is he?'
'One mile tall and as fat and muscley as Daddy.'
'Don't ships bump his head?'
'Sometimes. Then he makes hurricanes. That's what's called an "angry sea".'
'Daddy, why don't you play with us more?'
It was like dropping a heavy sea anchor into my stomach. The phrase 'I'm too busy' came into my mind and I flushed
with shame. 'I'd like to but-' entered and the flush got deeper.
'I don't know,' I said and huffed down to the surf and bulldozed my way in. By floating on my back just beyond the breakers all I could see was the sky, rising and falling.
Both the dice and my own desires permitted me to be with the children more in August and September. The dice once dictated that I take them to a Coney Island Amusement Park for a day, and I look back on that afternoon as one of the two or three absolute islands of joy in my life.
I brought toys home to them spontaneously a couple of times and their gratitude at this unexplained, unprecedented gift of the god was almost enough to make me give up psychiatry and the dice and devote myself to fulltime fatherhood. The third time I tried it, Larry's crane wouldn't work and the children fought solidly for three days over the other one. I considered vacationing in Alaska, the Sahara, the Amazon, anywhere, but alone.
The dice made me a very unreliable disciplinarian. They willed that in the first two weeks in September I should never yell, scold or punish the children for anything. Never had the house been so quiet and peaceful for so long. In the last week of September (school had begun) the dice ordered that I be an absolute dictator regarding homework, table manners, noise, neatness and respect. Fifteen hard spanks were to be administered for all transgressions. By the sixth day of my trying to enforce my standards Lil, the maid and the children locked themselves in the playroom and refused to let me enter. When Lil chastised me for my sudden week-long spasm of tyranny I explained that I'd been overwhelmed by a speech by Spiro Agnew on the evils of permissiveness.
Events like these strained, to say the least, my relations with Lil. One does not live seven years with a person an intelligent, sensitive person who (periodically) shows you great affection - without forming certain emotional ties. You do not father two handsome children by her without strengthening that bond.
Lil and I had met and mated when we were both twenty-five. We formed a deep, irrational, obviously neurotic need for one another: love is one of society's many socially accepted forms of madness. We got married: society's solution to loneliness, lust and laundry. We soon discovered that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being married which being single can't cure. Or so, for a while, it seemed to us.
I was in medical school earning nothing, and Lil, the spoiled daughter of Peter Daupmann, successful real estate man, went to work to support me. Lil, sole support of Lucius Rhinehart, M.D. to be, became pregnant. Lucius, practical, firm (except at confining sperm to their quarters), urged abortion. Lil, sensitive, loving, female, urged child. Practical man sulked. Female fed foetus, foetus left female: handsome son Lawrence: happiness, pride, poverty. After two months, spoiled child Lil works again for dedicated, practical, impoverished Luke, M.D. (but under analysis and interning and not practicing). Lil soon develops healthy resentment of work, poverty and dedicated, practical M.D. our bond to each other grows, but the intense pleasurable passion of yesteryear diminishes.
In brief, as the alert reader has concluded long before this, we were typically married. We had happy moments which we could share with no one; we had our insider jokes; we had our warm, sensual, sexual love as we had our mutual concern for (well, Lil anyway), interest in and pride in our children; and we had our two increasingly frustrated, isolated private selves. The aspirations we had for these selves did not find fulfillment in marriage, and all the twisting and writhing on the bed together couldn't erase this fact, although our very dissatisfaction united us.
NOW the dice treated everything and everyone as objects and forced me to do the same. The emotions I was to feel for all things were determined by the dice and not by the intrinsic relationship between me and the person or thing. Love I saw as an irrational, arbitrary binding relationship to another object. It was compulsive. It was an important part of the historical self. It must be destroyed. Lillian must become an object: an object of as little intrinsic effect upon or interest for me as … Nora Hammerhill (name picked at random from Manhattan phone book). Impossible, you say? Perhaps. But if a human being can be changed, this most basic of relationships must be susceptible to alteration. So I tried.
The dice sometimes refused to cooperate. They commanded me to show her concern and generosity. They bought her the first piece of jewelry I'd given her in six years. She accused me of infidelity. Reassured, she was very pleased. The dice sent us to three dramas on three consecutive nights (I had averaged three plays a year, two of which were inevitably musicals with record short runs); we both felt cultured, avant-garde, un-philistine. We swore we'd see a play a week all year. The dice said otherwise.
The dice one week requested that I give in to her every whim. Although she twice called me spineless and at the end of the week seemed disgusted with my lack of authority, I found myself listening and responding to her at times where normally I wouldn't have known she existed, and at times I touched her with my thoughtfulness.
Lil even enjoyed the dice's sudden passion for awkward sexual positions, although when the dice ordered me to penetrate her from thirteen distinctly different positions before reaching my climax, she became quite angry as I was trying to maneuver her into position eleven. When she wondered why I was getting so many strange whims these days, I suggested that perhaps I was pregnant.
But the medium is the message, and the dice decisions, no matter how pleasant they might sometimes be to Lil or Arlene or others, acted to separate me from people. Sexual dice decisions were particularly effective in destroying natural intimacy X" convincing a woman that one awkward sexual position is all 'that will satisfy you when she feels otherwise). Such dice commands obviously involved my being able to manipulate (both psychologically and physically) the woman as well as myself. They once perversely chose that `I not partake of sexual intercourse for one week with any woman,' and thus caused considerable internal conflict; a serious matter of conscience and principle: precisely what was denoted by `sexual intercourse'?
By the end of the first week I was desperate to know: did the dice intend to leave me free to participate in everything except penetration? Or except ejaculation? Deep down inside had the dice intended me to steer clear of all sexual activity? Whatever the die's intentions, on the seventh day I found myself on a couch, dressed conservatively in a T-shirt and two socks, beside Arlene Ecstein, dressed fetchingly in a lovely brassiere dangling around her waist, one stocking rolled up to midshin, two bracelets, one earring and one pair of panties modestly covering her left ankle. As part of her iron-clad code she had not been in a bed with me since D-Day, but her ironclad code had said nothing about cars, floors, chairs or couches, and the various parts of her body were being used against the various parts of mine with unmistakable intentions. Since I had permitted her caresses, indeed abetted them, I realized that I had reached the point when if she said, `Come into me,' and I said, `I don't feel like it,' she'd laugh me onto the rug. The decibel count of her groans indicated that in thirty-five seconds she would request my physical presence in her playroom.
To postpone the seemingly unavoidable act I shifted around and placed my head between her legs and began articulate oral communication. Her response was equally articulate and her message was well-received. However, I knew that Arlene found such communication, while pleasant, a relatively poor substitute for orthodox toe-to-toe talk.
My course of action became clear. My conscience had decided with remarkable facility that the dice had intended only that I abstain from genital intercourse, and although Arlene had once told me that she'd read that semen was fattening and didn't want to try it, it had become a matter of her code or that of the diceman. In another half-minute the diceman's honor was intact, I was sexually satisfied and Arlene was looking up at me wide-eyed and wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.
Although I apologized for what I called my `incontinence' (`Is that what it's called?' she asked), Arlene cuddled up affectionately, apparently proud that she had so overexcited me that my passion had overflowed against my will. I re-declared my passionate Platonic love, stuck my fingers in her, kissed her breasts, her mouth . . . in another few minutes I would have been facing the same dilemma a second time with no escape possible, but remembering, I jumped off the couch and began conscientiously increasing my outer decor.
I was Christ for a day. As a pattern-breaking event, being a loving Jesus certainly qualified, and I was surprised `how humble and loving and compassionate I began to feel. The dice had ordered me to `Be as Jesus' and to be constantly filled with a Christian (pronounced `Chr-eye-steean') love for everybody I met. I voluntarily walked the children to school that morning, holding their little hands and feeling paternal, benevolent and loving.
Larry's asking me `What's wrong, Daddy, why are you coming with us?' didn't faze me in the least. Back in my apartment study I re-read the Sermon on the Mount and most of the gospel of Mark, and when I said good-bye to Lil prior to her leaving on a shopping spree, I blessed her and showed her such tenderness that ,the assumed something was wrong. For a horrible instant I was about to confess my affair with Arlene and beg forgiveness, but instead I decided that that was another man - and another world. When I saw Lil again that evening she confessed that my love had helped her to spend three times more than she usually did.
I had a rendezvous scheduled with Arlene for late that very afternoon, but I knew then I would urge both her and myself to cease our sinning and pray for forgiveness. I tried to be especially compassionate with Frank Osterflood and Linda Reichman, my morning patients, but it didn't seem to have much effect. I got a slight stir out of Mr. Osterflood when I mentioned that perhaps raping little girls was a sin: he exploded that they deserved everything he did to them. When I read to him the Sermon on the Mount he became more and more agitated until I reached a part about if the right eye offend thee pluck it out and if the hand offend thee … He lunged off the couch across my desk and had me by the throat before I'd even stopped reading. After Jake and Miss Reingold and Jake's patient for that hour had finally succeeded in parting us, Osterflood and I were both rather embarrassed and admitted very shyly that we had been discussing the Sermon on the Mount.
Linda Reichman seemed put off when, after she had stripped to the waist, I suggested that we pray together. When she began kissing my ear I talked to her about the necessity of spiritual love. When she got angry, I begged her forgiveness, but when she unzipped my fly I began reading from the Sermon on the Mount again.
`What the hell's the matter with you today?' she sneered. 'You're even worse than you were last time.'
`I'm trying to show you that there's a spiritual love far more enriching than the most perfect of physical experiences.'
`You really believe that crap?' she asked.
`I believe that all men are lost until they become filled with a great warm love for all men, a spiritual love, the love of Jesus.'
`You really believe that crap?'
`I want my money back.'
` I almost cried that day when I met Jake for lunch. I so wanted to help him, trapped by that relentless overcharged engine of his, zooming through life missing everything, and especially missing the great love that filled me. He was forking down great gobs of beef stew and lima beans and telling me about a patient of his who had committed suicide by mistake. I was searching for some way to break down the seemingly impenetrable wall of his armored self and finding none. As the meal progressed I became sadder and sadder. I felt tears forming in my eyes. I irritably stopped the sentimentality and searched again for some way to his heart.
`Some way to his heart,' was the very phrase I thought in that day. A certain vocabulary and style go with every personality and every religion; under the influence of being Jesus Christ I found I loved people, and the experience expressed itself in unfamiliar actions and in unfamiliar language.
`Jake,' I finally said. `Do you ever feel great warmth and love toward people?'
He stopped with fork at mouth and gaped at me for a second.
`What's that?' he said: `Do you ever, have you ever felt a great rush of warmth and love toward some person or toward
He stared a moment more, then said: `No. Freud associated such feelings with pantheism and the stage of development
of two-year-olds. I'd say the irrational flooding of love was regression.'
`And you've never felt it?'
But what if such feelings are .. . wonderful. What if they seem better, more desirable than any other state? Would its
being a regressive mode of feeling still make it undesirable?'
`Sure. Who's the patient? That Cannon kid you were telling me about?'
'What if I were to tell you that I feel such a surge of love and warmth for everyone?'
This stopped the steam-shovel machine.
`And dally love for you,' I added.
Jake blinked behind his glasses and looked - it's only my interpretation of a facial expression I'd never seen on his face
`I'd say you were regressing,' he said nervously. `You're blocked in some line of development and to escape
responsibility and to find help you feel this great childish love for everyone.'
He began eating again. `It'll pass.'
`Do you think I'm joking about this feeling, Jake?'
He looked away, his eyes jumping from object to object around the room like trapped sparrows.
`Can't tell, Luke. You've been acting strangely lately. Might be a game, might be sincere. Maybe you ought to get
back in analysis, talk it up with Tim there. I can't judge you here as a friend.'
`All right, Jake. But I want you to know that I love you and I don't think it has anything at all to do with object
cathexis or the anal stage.'
He blinked at me nervously, not eating.
`It's a Christeean love, or rather, a Judaic-Christ-Bean love, of course,' I added.
He was looking more and more terrified. I began to be afraid of him.
`I'm only referring to warm, passionate brotherly love, Jake, it's nothing to worry about.'
He smiled nervously, snuck in a quick squint and asked `Have these attacks very often, Luke?'
`Please don't worry about it. Tell me more about that patient. Have you finished your article about it?'
Jake was soon back on the main line, throttle wide open, his colleague, love-filled Lucius Rhinehart, successfully
sidetracked at Podunk Junction, there to be stationed hopefully until it was possible to write an article about him. `Sit
down, my son,' I said to Eric Cannon when he entered my little green room at QSH that afternoon. I had was feeling
very warm and Jesusy before buzzing for him to be brought in and, standing behind the desk, I looked at him now with love. He looked back at me as though he believed he could see into my soul, his large black eyes glimmering with apparent amusement. Despite his gray khakis and torn T-shirt he was serene and dignified, a lithe, long-haired Christ who looked as though he did gymnastics every day and had fucked every girl on the block.
He dragged a chair over near the window as he always did and flopped down with casual unconcern, his legs stretched out in front of him, a hole staring mutely at me from the bottom of his left sneaker.
Bowing my head, I said: `Let us pray.
He stopped open-mouthed in mid-yawn, his arms clasped behind his head, and stared. Then he drew in his legs, leaned
forward and lowered his head.
`Dear God,' I said aloud. `Help us this hour to serve thy will, be in tune with Thy soul and breathe each breath to Thy
I sat down with my eyes still lowered, wondering where I went from here. In most of my early sessions with Eric, I
had been my usual non-directive self and, much to my discomfiture, he became the first patient in recorded psychiatric
history who; through his first three consecutive therapy sessions, was able to sit silent and thoroughly relaxed. In the
fourth he talked nonstop the entire hour on the state of the ward and world. In subsequent sessions he had alternated
between silence and soliloquy. In the previous three weeks I had tried only a couple of dice-dictated experiments and
had assigned Eric to try feeling love for all figures of authority but he had met all my ploys with silence. When I
raised my head now, he was looking at me alertly. Black eyes pinning me where I sat, he reached into his pocket,
leaned forward and wordlessly offered me a Winston.
`Thank you no,' I said.
`Just one Jesus to another,' he said with a mocking smile.
`No thank you.'
`What's with the prayer bit?' he asked.
'I feel . . . religious today,' I answered, `and I '
`Good for you,' he said.
`-wanted you to share my feeling.'
`Who are you to be religious?' he asked with sudden coolness.
`I . . . I am… I am Jesus,' I answered.
For a moment his face held its cool alertness, then it broke into a contemptuous smile.
`You haven't got the will,' he said.
`What do you mean?'
`You don't suffer, you don't care enough, you don't have the fire to be a Christ actually living on the earth.'
`And you, my son?'
`And I do. I've had a fire burning in my gut every moment of my life to wake this world up, to lash the fucking
bastards out of the temple, to bring a sword to-their peace-plagued souls.'
`But what of love?'
`Love?' he barked at me, his body now straight and tense in the chair. 'Love…' he said more quietly. `Yeah, love. I feel
love for those who suffer, those on the rack of the machine, but not for the guys at the controls, not for the torturers,
not for them.'
`Who are they?'
`You, buddy, and every guy in a position to change the machine or bust it or quit working on it who doesn't.'
`I'm part of the machine?'
`Every moment you play along with this farce of therapy in this nurse-infested prison, you're driving your nail into the
`But I want to help you, to give you health and happiness.'
`Careful, you'll make me puke.'
'And if I stopped working for the machine?'
`Then there'd be some hope for you. Then I might listen; then you would count.'
But if I leave the system how will I ever see you again?'
`There are visiting hours. And I'm only going to be with you here for a little while.'
We sat in our respective chairs eyeing each other with alert curosity.
`You aren't surprised that I began our session with a prayer or that I am Jesus?'
`You play games. I don't know why, but you do. It makes me hate you less than the others but know I should never
`Do you think you're Christ?'
His eyes shifted away from mine to the sooty window.
`He who has ears to hear let him hear,' he said.
'I'm not sure you love enough,' I said. `I feel that love is the key to it all, and you seem to have hate.'
He returned his gaze to me slowly.
`You might fight, Rhinehart. No games. You must know your friend and love him and know your enemy and attack.'
'That's hard,' I said.
`Just open your eyes. He who has eyes to see, let him see.'
'I'm always seeing good guys and bad guys yo-yoing up and down in the same person. I never see a target. I always
want to forgive, to love.'
`The man behind the machine, Rhinehart, and the man who is part of the machine: they're not hard to see. The lying and cheating and manipulating and killing: you've seen them. Just walk along the street and open your eyes and you won't lack for targets.'
`But do you ask us to kill them?'
`I ask you to fight them. There's a worldwide war on and everybody's drafted and you're either for the machine or
you're against it, a part of it, or getting your balls raked by it every day. Life today is a war whether you want it to be
or not, and so far, Rhinehart, you've been doing your part for the other side.'
`But thou shall love thy enemies,' I said.
`Sure. And thou shall hate evil,' he answered.
`Judge not, that ye be not judged.'
`He who sits on a fence, gets it up his ass,' he replied without smile.
`I lack the fire: I like everybody,' I said sadly.
`You lack the fire.'
`What am I good for then? I wish to be a religious person.'
'A disciple, maybe,' he said.
`One of the twelve?'
`Most likely. You charge thirty bucks an hour?'
Sitting opposite Arturo Toscanini Jones a half hour later I felt depressed and tired and un-Jesusy and didn't say much.
Since as usual Jones was quiet too, we sat there pleasantly isolated in our private worlds until I rustled up enough
energy to try to carry out my role.
`Mr. Jones,' I finally said, looking at his tensed body and frowning fate, `although I agree that you're right not to trust
any white man, try to assume for a moment that I, because perhaps of some neurosis of my own, feel an overwhelming
warmth toward you and want deeply to help you in any way possible. What might I be able to do?'
'Get me out of here,' he said as if he'd been expecting the question.
I considered this. In the twenty or so sessions we'd talked I had found this to be his one all-consuming desire; like a
caged animal he had no other.
`And after I've helped you be released what then might I do?'
`Get me out of here. Until I'm free I can't think about anything else. On the outside, well…'
`What would you do on the outside?'
He turned on me sharply.
'Goddam it, man, I said get me out of here, not more talk. You said you wanted to help and you keep on rapping.'
I considered this. It was clear that nothing I would do for Jones inside the hospital would be anything but the act of a white doctor. Unless I broke through that stereotype my love would never touch him. Once released he might well consider me a stupid Charlie that he had fucked good, but that seemed an irrelevant consideration. Inside the hospital there could only be hate. Outside . . .
I stood up and walked over to the sooty window and looked out at a group of patients playing a listless game of
`I'll have you released right now. You can go home this afternoon, before supper. It will be slightly illegal and I may
get into trouble, but if freedom is all I can give you then that's what I'll give.'
`You puttin' me on?'
`You'll be back in the city within an hour if I have to drive you there myself.'
What's the catch? If I can go free today why couldn't I go free a month ago? I ain't changed none.'
He sneered at his own grammar.
`Yes, I know. But I have.'
I turned my back on him again and stared out across the lawn and past the softball game to watch a little boy trying to
fly a kite.
`I think this hospital is a prison and that the doctors are jailers,' I said, `and the city is hell and that our society acts to
kill the spirit of love which might exist between man and man. I'm lucky. I'm a jailer and not one of the jailed and thus I can help you. I will help you. But let me-ask one favor of you.' When I turned back to him he was leaning forward on the edge of the chair with concentrated animal tension. When I
paused, he frowned and whispered out a `How?'
That frown and whisper warned me that the two possible `favors' I had in mind would both fail: `Come and see me at
my office' and `be my friend: A man didn't befriend his jailer for giving him freedom since the freedom was deserved,
and the doctor-patient relation had failure built into it. I stood looking at him blankly.
'What do you want me to do?' he asked.
Outside I heard a boat's horn from the river groan twice, like warning snorts.
`Nothing, I said. `Nothing. I just remembered that I want to help you. Period. You don't have to do anything. You'll go
free. Outside, what you do is what you do. You'll be free of this hospital and free of me.'
He stared suspiciously and I stared back, feeling serious and ham actor noble. The urge to suggest verbally that I was
being great for doing this was strong, but humble Jesus won out.
`Come on,' I said. `Lets go and get your clothes end get out of here.'
As it turned out, it took more than an hour to get Arturo Toscanini Jones released and even then, as I had feared, it was
illegal. I got him released from the ward in my custody, but such a release did not give him permission to leave the hospital: That took formal action of one of the directors and was impossible for that afternoon. I'd talk to Dr. Mann at lunch on Friday, or maybe phone.
I drove Jones to Manhattan and then uptown to his mother's home at 142nd Street. Neither of us said a single word during the entire drive and when I let him out he said only: `Thanks for the ride.'
'That's okay,' I answered.
After a barely perceptible pause he slammed the door and strode away.
Strike up another scoreless innings for Jesus.
I was exhausted by the time I had gotten Arturo released from the hospital and my silence with him in the car was
partly fatigue. Trying minute after minute to be someone not totally natural to the personality, as Jesus was for me, was hard work. Impossible work, as a matter of fact. During that whole day I noticed that after about forty minutes of being a loving Jesus my system-would simply break down into apathy and in difference. If I continued the role past the forty-minute point it was purely mechanical rather than felt.
As I drove toward my rendezvous with Arlene my bleary mind tried to scrutinize my relations with her. Christianity frowns on adultery: this much I was able to come up with. Our relationship was a sin. Should Jesus simply avoid a rendezvous with his mistress? No. He would want to express his love for her. His agape. He would want to remind her of various relevant commandments.
Such was the intention of Jesus when he met Mrs. Jacob Ecstein that afternoon at the corner of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue in Harlem and drove to an obscure section of the parking lot at La Guardia Airport overlooking the bay. The woman was cheerful and relaxed and spoke during most of the drive about Portnoy's Complaint, a book which Jesus had not read. It was clear from her speaking, however, that the author of the novel had not discovered love, and that the effect upon Mrs. Ecstein was to increase her cynical, guiltless, shameless devil-may-care immersion in her gin. It seemed to Jesus precisely the wrong mood for his beginning to discuss Judao-Christian love.
'Arlene,' spoke Jesus, after he had parked, `do you ever feel great warmth and love toward people?'
`Only for you, lover,' she replied.
`Have you never felt a great rush of warmth and love toward some person or toward all humanity?'
The woman cocked her head and thought.
`To what do you attribute it?'
The woman unzipped the fly of Jesus and reached a hand in and enclosed the Sacred Tool. It was, all accounts agree,
filled only with agape.
`My daughter,' he said, `are you not concerned with causing unhappiness to your husband or to Lillian?'
She stared at him.
`Of course not. I love this.'
`Are your husband's feelings of no concern to you?'
`Jake's feelings!' she shouted. `Jake, is completely well-adjusted. He doesn't have any feelings.'
'Not even love?'
`Perhaps once a week he has that.'
`But Lillian has feelings. God has feelings.'
`I know, and I think what you're doing to her is cruel.'
`That is true, and you and Dr. Rhinehart must stop doing that which is so clearly sinful and which must hurt her.'
`We're not doing anything, it's you that makes her suffer.'
`Dr. Rhinehart will be a better man.'
`Good. I hate to see her so upset with you: She gave the Sacred Tool a little friendly squeeze and then lowered her
head to his lap and sucked in the Spiritual Spaghetti.
`But Arlene!' He said. `Dr. Rhinehart's making love to you is fornication, is what might hurt her.'
The woman tempted Jesus further with her serpent's tongue, but producing no measurable effect, raised herself. Denied
her sinful pleasure she looked peevish.
`What are you talking about? What's fornication, another of your perversions?'
`Physical intercourse with Dr. Rhinehart is a sin.'
`Who's this Dr. Rhinehart you keep talking about? What's the matter with you today?'
`What you have been doing is cruel and selfish and against the word of God. Your affair might have disastrous effects
upon Lillian and the children.'
'If they found out'
'She'd only divorce you.' Jesus stared at the woman.
`We are speaking of human beings and of the Sacred Institution of Marriage,' He said.
`I don't know what you're talking about' Jesus became wrathful and thrust the woman's hand away and zipped up the
`You are so buried in your sin you cannot see what you do.'
The woman was angry too.
`You've been enjoying yourself for three months and now all of a sudden you discover sin and that I'm a sinner.'
`Dr. Rhinehart is a sinner too.'
The woman poked back at the Crotch.
'Not much of a one today,' she said.
Jesus stared out through the windshield of the car at a small cruiser plodding across the bay. Two gulls which had
been following it swerved away and spiraled up about fifty feet and then spiraled down and over toward Him,
wheeling out of sight past the car. A signal? A Sign? Jesus realized humbly that of course he was being insane, By fucking Mrs. Ecstein with great gusto for months in the body of Dr. Rhinehart He had confused her. It was difficult for her to recognize him in the -body of someone she had knows playing the role of a sinner. Looking over at her, he saw her staring crossly out over the water, her hands clasping a half-finished almond bar in her lap. Her bare knees suddenly appeared to Him as those of a little child, her emotions those of a little girl. He remembered His injunction about children.
`I'm very very sorry Arlene. I'm insane. I recognize this. I'm not always myself. I frequently lose myself. To cast you off by suddenly talking about sin and Lil and Jake must seem cruel hypocrisy.'
When she turned to face Him. He saw tears brimming at her eyes.
`I love your cock and you love my breasts and that's not sin.'
Jesus considered these words. They did seem reasonable.
`It is good,' He said. `But there are greater goods.'
`I know that, but I like yours.'
They stared at each other: two alien spiritual worlds.
`I have to go now,' He said. `I may return. My insanity is sending me away. My insanity says I will not be able to make love to you for a while.'
Jesus started the car.
`Boy,' she said and took a healthy bite from the almond bar, `you ought to be seeing a psychiatrist yourself five times a week if you ask me.'
Jesus drove them back to the city.
Ego, my friends, ego. The more I sought to destroy it through the dice the greater it grew. Each tumble of a die chipped off another splinter of the old self to feed the growing tissues of the dice man ego. I was killing past pride in myself as analyst, as article writer, as good-looking male, as loving husband, but every corpse was fed to the cannibalistic ego of that superhuman creature I felt I was becoming. How proud I am of being the Dice Man! Whose primary purpose is supposedly to kill all sense of pride in self. The only options I never permitted were those which might challenge his power and glory. All values might be shat upon except that. Take away that identity from me and I am a trembling dread-filled clod, alone in an empty universe. With determination and dice, I am God.
Once I wrote down as an option (one chance in six) that I could (for a month) disobey any of the dice decisions if I felt like it and if I shook a subsequent odd number. I was frightened by the possibility. Only the realization that the act of `disobedience' would in fact be an act of obedience removed my panic. The dice neglected the option. Another time I thought of writing that from then on all dice decisions would be recommendations and not commands. In effect, I would be changing the-role of dice from commander-in-chief to advisory council. The threat of having `free will' again paralyzed me. I never wrote the option.
The dice continually humbled me. They ordered me to get drunk one Saturday: an act which I had found to be inconsistent with my dignity. Being drunk meant an absence of self-control which was inconsistent also with the detached, experimental creature I was becoming as the Dice Man. However, I enjoyed it. The letting go was not very different from the insanities I had been committing while sober. I spent the evening with Lil and the Ecsteins and at midnight began making paper airplanes out of the manuscript pages of my proposed book on sadism and flying them out the window onto 72nd Street. My drunken pawing of Arlene was interpreted as drunken pawing. The incident marked another piece of evidence of the slow disintegration of Lucius Rhinehart.
I provided my friends with plenty of other pieces of evidence. I rarely ate lunch with my colleagues anymore since I usually was sent by the dice to other places whenever I had free time. When I did lunch with them the dice often had dictated some eccentric role or action which seemed to unsettle them. One-day during a forty-eight hour total fast (except for water) which the die had dealt me, I felt weak and decided not to let the die send me anyplace: I would share my fast with Tim, Jake and Renata.
They talked, as they had for several months, primarily to each other. Whenever they directed a question or comment to me they did it warily, like animal trainers feeding a wounded lion. This particular afternoon they were talking about the hospital's policy of releasing patients conditionally, and I, staring hysterically at Jake's sirloin steak, was drunk with hunger. Dr. Mann was slobbering his scallops all over the table and his napkin, and Dr. Felloni was delicately escorting each separate tiny piece of lamb (Lamb!) to her mouth and I was insane. Jake as usual managed to talk and eat faster than both the others together.
`Got to keep 'em in,' he said. `Harmful to us, the hospital, society, everybody, if a patient is prematurely released. Read Bowerly.'
Silence. (Actually chewing [I heard every nibble], other restaurant voices, laughter, dishes clattering, sizzling [I heard every single bubble explosion] and a loud voice which said, `Never again.') `You're-absolutely right, Jake,' I uttered unexpectedly. They were my first words of the afternoon.
`Remember that Negro released on probation who killed his parents? We were idiots. What if he'd only wounded them?'
`He's right, Tim,' I said.
Dr. Mann didn't deign to interrupt his eating, but Jake shot me a second piercing squint.
`I'll bet,' he went on, `that two-thirds of the patients released from QSH - and the other state hospitals - are released far too early, that is, when they're still a menace to themselves and society.'
`That's true,' I said.
`I know that the professional opinion in vogue is that hospitalization is at best a necessary evil, but it's a stupid vogue. If we've got anything to offer our patients, then our hospitals do too. There are three times as many doctor-hours for a patient as he gets in the best out-patient treatment. Read Hegalson, Potter and Busch, their revised edition.'
'And they don't miss appointments, either,' I added.
'That's right,' Jake went on, `there's no home life to mess up their lives.'
'No wives or husbands or children or home-cooked meals.'
Dr. Felloni interrupted: 'Isn't adjustment to the home environment what we're striving for though?'
"Adjustment to some environment,' Jake answered. `I try to get my Negro patients in group therapy to see the sickness of the white world so that they will end their resentment and find themselves satisfied with either their lives on the ward or their necessary ghetto existence.'
'And God knows,' I said, `that the white world is sick. Look at the starving millions in East Germany.'
This slowed Jake down for a moment: he lived the rhythm of agreement but wasn't certain that my statement here was entirely satisfactory. With that brilliance which was his essence he hedged: `Our job is to shoot psychological penicillin into the whole social fabric, white and black, and we're doing it.'
'But with regard to Mrs. Lansing,' Dr. Felloni said, `you do feel she should be released.'
'She's your baby, Renata, but remember, "When is doubt, don't let 'em out."
'Dr. Mann sent up a belch as an apparent warning signal that he was about to speak. We all looked at him respectfully.
`Jake,' he said. `You would have been at home as commander of a concentration camp.'
Then I said: `What a lousy thing to say. Jake wants to help his patients not exterminate them. And besides, in
concentration camps the commander sometimes … didn't give them food: Silence. Dr. Mann seemed to be chewing a cud; Dr. Felloni was moving her head from side to side and up and down very slowly, like someone watching a tennis match consisting entirely of lobs. Jake, leaning forward intently and peering without fear into Dr. Mann's bland face, said with the rapidity of a typewriter `I don't know what you mean by that, Tim. I'll stack my patient record against yours any day. My policy on patient' release is the same as the director's. I think you should apologize.'
`Quite right,' Dr. Mann wiped his mouth with his napkin (or he may have been nibbling from it). `Apologize. I'd be at home as commander too. Only one who wouldn't is Luke, he'd let everyone go - on a whim.'
Dr. Mann had not been enthusiastic about the release of Arturo Toscanini Jones.
`No, I wouldn't,' I said. `If I were commander I'd increase food allotments two hundred percent and do experiments
with the inmates which would advance psychiatry a hundred years past Freud in twelve months.'
`Are you-talking about Jewish inmates?' Jake asked.
`Damn right. Jews make the best subjects for psychological experiments.'
I paused about one and a half seconds, but as Jake started to speak, I went on. `Because they're so intelligent,' sensitive
That slowed Jake down. Somehow the racial stereotype I had created with my three adjectives didn't seem to leave him
much to shoot at.
`What do you mean by flexible?' he asked.
`Not rigid - open-minded, capable of change.'
`What experiments would you perform, Luke?'
Dr. Mann asked, watching a chubby waiter quiver past with a platter of lobsters.
`I wouldn't touch the inmates physically. No brain operations, sterilizations, that stuff. All I'd do is this: Turn all the
ascetics into hedonists; all the epicureans into flagellants; nymphomaniacs into nuns; homosexuals into heterosexuals, and vice versa. I'd train them all to eat non kosher food, give up their religion, change their professions, their styles of dress, grooming, walking and so on, and train them all to be unintelligent, insensitive and inflexible. I would prove that man can be changed: Dr. Felloni looked a little startled; she was nodding rather emphatically: `We're going to do this at Queensborough State, Hospital?'
`When I become director,' I answered.
`But I'm not certain it would be ethical,' she said.
`How would you do all this?' asked Dr. Mann.
`Yes. Honker, Ronson and Gloop, APB Journal, August, 1958, pages sixteen to twenty-three, annotated bibliography.
It's short for drama-role therapy.'
'Dessert menu, please, waiter,' said Dr. Mann and seemed to lose interest.
'The same thing as Moreno?' Jake asked.
`No. Moreno has patients act out their fantasies in staged playlets. Drole therapy consists of forcing patients to live
their pressed latent impulses.'
'What's the APB Journal?' Jake asked.
`Jake, I agree with everything you say,' I said pleadingly. Don't challenge me. The whole thin tissue supporting our
argument will tear and collapse the whole thing on us.'
`I wasn't urging experimentation on patients.'
`Then what do you do during a typical hour?'
'Dr. Mann began what might have been a long rumbling laugh but was infected by food swallowed the wrong way and
ended as a fit of coughing.
But, Jake,' I said, `I thought it was our idea to gradually increase the facilities of and enrolment in mental hospitals one
percent a year until the whole nation was being cured.'
`You'd have to be first, Luke,' Jake said quietly. ""Let me start now, today. I need help. I need food.'
`You mean analysis?'
`Yes. We all know I need it badly.'
`Dr. Mann was your analyst.'
'I've lost faith in him. He's got bad table manners. He wastes food.'
`You knew that before.'
`But I didn't know until now the importance of food:'
Silence. Then Dr. Felloni:
`I'm glad you mentioned Tim's table manners, Luke, because for some time now…'
'How about it, Tim,' Jake said. `Can I take on Luke?'
`Certainly. I only work with neurotics.'
That ambiguous remark (was I schizophrenic or mentally healthy?) essentially ended the conversation. A few minutes
later I staggered away from the table engaged to begin analysis with Dr. Jacob Ecstein on Friday in our mutual office.
Jake left the table like a man handed the Sonship of God on a silver platter; his greatest triumph was about to begin.
And, by Fromm, he was right.
As for myself, when I finally ate again eighteen hours later, it killed my appetite for therapy, but, as it turned out,
going back under analysis with Jake was a stroke of genius. Never question the Way of the Die: Even when you're starving to death.
Eventually, it had to happen; the dice decided that Dr. Rhinehart should spread their plague - he was ordered to corrupt his innocent children into the dicelife.
He easily maneuvered his wife to a long three-day visit to her, parents in Daytona Beach, employing the horrible premise that the nursemaid Mrs. Roberts and he would take perfect care of the children. He then maneuvered Mrs. Roberts to Radio City Music Hall. Rubbing his hands together and grinning hysterically, Dr. Rhinehart began to implement his hideous plan of drawing his innocent children into his web of sickness and depravity.
`My children,' he said to them from the living room couch in a fatherly tone of voice (Oh! the cloak which evil wears!)
`I have a special game for us to-play today.'
Lawrence and little Evie clustered close to their father like innocent moths to a deadly flame. He took from his pocket
and placed on the arm of the couch two dice: those awful seeds which had already borne such bitter fruit.
The children stared at the dice wide-eyed; they had never seen evil directly before, but the shimmering green light which the dice emitted sent through each of their hearts a deep convulsive shudder. Suppressing his fear, Lawrence said bravely `What's the game, Dad?'
`Me, too,' said Evie.
`It's called the dice man game.'
`What's that?' asked Lawrence. (Only seven years old, yet so soon to be aged in evil.) `The dice man game goes like
this: we write down six things we might do and then we shake a die to see which one we do.'
`Or write down six persons you might be and then shake the dice and see which one you are.'
Lawrence and Evie stared at their father, stunned with the enormity of the perversion.
`Okay,' said Lawrence.
`Me too,' said Evie.
`How do we decide what to write down?' asked Lawrence.
`Just tell me any strange thing which you think might be .fun and I'll write it down.'
Lawrence thought, unaware of the downward spiral that this first step might mean.
`Go to the zoo,' he said.
`Go to the zoo,' said Dr. Rhinehart and walked nonchalantly to his desk for paper and pencil to record this infamous
`Climb to the roof and throw paper,' Lawrence said. He and Evie had joined their father at the desk and watched as he
`Go beat up Jerry Brass,' Lawrence went on.
Dr. Rhinehart nodded and wrote.
`That's number three,' he said.
`Play horsey with you.'
`Hooray,' said Evie.
There was a silence.
`I can't think of anymore.'
`How about you, Evie?'
`Eat ice cream.'
'Yeah,' said Lawrence.
`That's number five. Just one more.'
`Go for a long hike in Harlem,' shouted Lawrence, and he ran back to the couch and got the dice. `Can I throw?'
`You can throw. Just one, remember.'
He cast across the floor of his fate a single die: a four horsey. Ah gods, in what nag's clothing comes the wolf.
They played, raucously, for twenty minutes and then Lawrence, already, Reader, I lament to say, hooked, asked to
play dice man again. His father, smiling and gasping for breath, wobbled to the desk to write another page of the book
of ruin. Lawrence added some new alternatives and left some old ones and the dice chose: `Go beat up Jerry Brass.'
Lawrence stared at his father.
`What do we do now?' he asked.
`You go downstairs and ring the Brass's doorbell and ask to see Jerry and then you try to beat him up.'
Lawrence looked down at the floor, the enormity of his folly beginning to sink into his little heart.
`What if he's not home?'
`Then you try again later.'
`What'll I say when I beat him up?'
`Why don't you ask the dice?'
He looked up quickly at his father.'
'What do you mean?'
`You've got to beat up Jerry, why not give the dice six voices of what you'll say?'
'That's great. What'll they be?'
`You're God,' his father said with that same horrible smile. `You name them.'
`I'll tell him my father told me to.'
Dr. Rhinehart coughed, hesitated. `That's .., um … number one.'
`I'll tell him my mother told me to.'
'That I'm drunk.'
"That . .. that I can't stand him'
He was deep in excited concentration.
`That I'm practicing my boxing…' He laughed and hopped up and down.
`And that the dice told me to.'
That's six and very good, Larry.'
`I throw, I throw.'
'That I'm practicing my boxing…'
He laughed and the living room rung and yelled its command back to his father: 'Three!'
`Okay, Larry, you're drunk. Go get him.'
Reader, Lawrence went. Lawrence struck Jerry Brass. Struck him several times, announced he was drunk and escaped
unpunished by the absent Brass parents or present Brass maid, but pursued already by the furies which will not leave
un-avenged such senseless evil. When he returned to his own apartment, Lawrence's first words were - I record them with shame:
`Where 'are the dice, Dad?'
Ah, my friends, that innocent afternoon with Larry provoked me into thought in a way my own dicelife until then never bad. Larry took to following the dice with such ease and joy compared to the soul-searching gloom that I often weal cough before following a decision, that I had to wonder what happened to every human in the two decades between seven and twenty-seven to turn a kitten into a cow. Why did children seem to be so often spontaneous, joy-filled and concentrated while adults seemed controlled, anxiety filled and diffused?
It was the goddam sense of having a self: that sense of self which psychologists have been proclaiming we all must have. What if - at the time it seemed like an original thought - 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 or turtles? He he he. What if? Indeed men must attempt to eliminate the error and develop in themselves and their children liberation from the sense of self. Man must become comfortable in flowing from one role to another, one set of values to another, one life to another. Men must be free from boundaries, patterns and consistencies in order to be free to think, feel and create in new ways. Men have admired Prometheus and Mars too long; our God must become Proteus.
I became tremendously excited with my thoughts: `Men must become comfortable in flowing from one role to another'
- why aren't they? At the age of three or four, children were willing to be either good guys or bad guys, the Americans or the Commies, the students or the fuzz. As the culture molds them, however, each child comes to insist on playing only one set of roles: he must always be a good guy, or, for equally compulsive reasons, a bad guy or rebel. The capacity to play and feel both sets of roles is lost. He has begun to know who he is supposed to be.
The sense of a permanent self: ah, how psychologists and parents lust to lock their kids into some definable cage. Consistency, patterns, something we can label - that's what we want in our boy.
`Oh, our Johnny always does a beautiful bowel movement every morning after breakfast'
`Billy just loves to read all the time…'
`Isn't Joan sweet? She always likes to let the other person win.'
'Sylvia's so pretty and so grown up; she just loves all the time to dress up.'
It seemed to me that a thousand oversimplifications a year betrayed the truths in the child's heart: he knew at one point that he didn't always feel like shitting after breakfast but it gave his Ma a thrill. Billy ached to be out splashing in mud puddles with the other boys, but . . . Joan wanted to chew the penis off her brother every time he won, but … And Sylvia daydreamed of a land in which she wouldn't have to worry but how she looked …
Patterns are prostitution to the patter of parents. Adults rule and they reward patterns. Patterns it is. And eventual misery.
What if we were to bring up our children differently? Reward them for varying their habits, tastes, roles? Reward them for being inconsistent? What then? We could discipline them to be reliably various, to be conscientiously inconsistent, determinedly habit-free even of `good' habits.
`What, my boy, haven't told a lie yet today? Well, go to your room and stay there until you can think one up and learn to do better.'
`Oh, my Johnny, he's so wonderful. Last year he got all "A"s an his report card and this year he's getting mostly "D"s and "F"s. We're so proud: `Our little Eileen still pees in her panties every now and then and she's almost twelve.'
'Oh, that's marvelous! Your daughter must be so alive.'
`Good boy, Roger, that was beautiful the way you walked off the field and went home to play Ping-Pong with the
score tied and two out in the last of the eighth. Every dad in the stands wished his kid had thought of that.'
`Donnie! Don't you dare brush your teeth again tonight! It's getting to be a regular habit.'
`I'm sorry, Mom.'
`Goddam son of mine. Hasn't goofed off in a week. If I don't find the lawn un-mowed or the wastebaskets overflowing
one of these days, I'm going to blow my top at him.'
`Larry, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. You haven't bullied a single one of the little kids on the block all
'I just don't feel like it, Mom.'
`Well, at least you could try.'
`What should I wear, Mother?'
`Oh I don't know, Sylvia. Why don't you try the cardigan which makes you look flat-chested and that ugly skirt your
grandmother gave you which always twists. I've got a pair of nylons I've been saving for a special occasion: they've
each got a run.'
Teachers, too, would have to alter.
'Your drawings all tend to look like the thing you're draw, young man. You seem unable to let yourself go.'
'This essay is too logical and well-organized. If you expect to develop as a writer you must learn to digress and be at
times totally irrelevant.'
`Your son's work shows much improvement. His papers on history have become nicely erratic again, and his comportment totally unreliable (A-). His math remains a little compulsively accurate, but his spelling is a delight. I particularly enjoyed his spelling of "stundent" for "student".'
`We regret to inform you that your son behaves always like a man. He seems incapable of being a girl part of the time.
He has been dating only girls and may need psychiatric treatment'
`I'm afraid, George, that you're one of our few ninth graders who hasn't acted like a kindergarten child this week.
You'll have to stay after school and work on it.'
The child, we are informed, needs to see order and consistency in the world or he becomes insecure and afraid. But what order and consistency? The child doesn't have to have consistent consistency; it seemed to me he might grow equally well with consistent, dependable inconsistency. Life, in fact, is that way; if parents would only admit and praise inconsistency, children wouldn't be so frightened of their parents' hypocrisy or ignorance.
`Sometimes I'll spank you for spilling your milk and sometimes I won't give a damn.'
`Occasionally I like you when you rebel against me, son, and at other times I love to kick the shit out of you.'
`I'm usually pleased with your good grades in school, but sometimes I think you're an awful grind.'
Such is the way adults feel: such is the way children sense they feel. Why can't they acknowledge and praise their inconsistency? Because they think they have a `self.'
Like the turtle's shell, the sense of self serves as a shield against stimulation and as a burden which limits mobility into possibly dangerous areas. The turtle rarely has to think about what's on the other side of his shell; whatever it is, it can't hurt him, can't even touch him. So, too, adults insist on the shell of a consistent self for themselves and their children and appreciate turtles for friends; they wish to be protected from being hurt or touched or confused or having to think. If a man can rely on consistency, he can afford not to notice people after the first few times. But I imagined a world in which each individual might be about to play the lover, the benefactor, the sponger, the attacker, the friend: and once known as one of the next day he might yet be anything. Would we pay attention to this person? Would life be boring? Would life be livable? I saw then clearly for the first time that the fear of failure keeps us huddled in the cave of self #161;a group of behavior patterns we have mastered and have no intention of risking failure by abandoning.
What if secretly before every agon or game the dice were thrown to determine whether the `winner' or the `loser' `wins'! The prize or the championship, with fifty-fifty being the odds for each? The loser of the game would thus end up half the time being congratulated for having been lucky enough to have lost, and thus won the prize. The man who won the game would be consoled for playing so well.
`But!!! The loser of the game would still feel bad, the winner still feel 'good.'
But I remembered reading in a widely acclaimed book on children's games something which made Larry's affinity for diceliving make sense. I dug out the book and read confirmation of my thoughts with joy. Children, it said … rarely trouble to keep scores, little significance is attached to who wins or loses, they do not require the stimulus of prizes, it does not seem to worry them if the game is not finished. Indeed, children like games in which there is a sizeable element of luck, so that individual abilities cannot be directly compared. They like games which restart automatically, so that everybody is given a new chance.
It seemed to me that there were two quite different meanings of failure. The mind knows when it is blocked and when it has found a solution. A child trying to solve a maze knows when he fails and when he succeeds; no adult need tell him. A child building a house of blocks knows when the collapse of the house means failure (he wanted to build it higher) and when it means success (he wanted it to fall). Success and failure mean simply the satisfaction and frustration of desire. It is real; it is important; the child doesn't have, to be rewarded or punished by society in order to prefer success to failure.
The, second meaning of failure is also simple: failure is failure to please an adult; success is pleasing an adult. Money, fame, winning a baseball game, looking pretty, having good clothes, car, house are' all types of success which primarily revolve around pleasing the adult world. There is nothing intrinsic to the human soul in any of these fears of failure.
Becoming the dice man was difficult because it involved a continual risking of failure in the eyes of the adult world. As dice man I `failed' (in the second sense) again and again. I was rejected by Lil, by the children, by my esteemed colleagues, by my patients, by strangers, by the image of society's values branded into me by thirty years of living. In the second sense of failure I was continually failing and suffering, but in the first sense I never failed. Every time I followed the dictates of the die I was successfully building a house or purposely knocking one down. My mazes were always being solved. I was continually opening myself to new problems and, enjoying solving them.
From children to men we cage ourselves in patterns to avoid facing new problems and possible failure; after a while men become bored because there are no new problems. Such is life under the fear of failure.
Fail! Lose! Be bad! Play, risk, dare.
Thus, I exulted that evening of Larry's first diceday. I became determined to make Larry and Evie fearless, frameless, egoless humans. Larry would be the first egoless man since Lao-Tzu. I would let him play the role of father of the household and Evie the mother. I'd let them reverse roles. Sometimes they would play parents as they perceive us to be and at other times as they think parents should be. We could all play television heroes and comic-strip characters. And Lil and I every conscientious parent - would change his personality every other day or week.
`I am he who can play many games.'
That is the essence of the happy child of foul, and he never feels he loses. `I am he who is x, y and z, and x, y and z only': that is the essence of the unhappy adult. I would try to extend in my children their childishness. In the immortal words of J. Edgar Hoover: `Unless ye become as little children, ye shall not see God.'
Larry's first day as dice-boy had been cut short by boredom with too much of the same thing. He liked the game; he was able to follow the commands of the dice even when they conflicted with his normal patterns, but after about three hours he simply wanted to play with his trucks and didn't want to risk this pleasure to the dice. Since I have often felt the same way (although not about trucks), I explained that the dice man game should only be played when he felt like it. I emphasized, however, that when he did play he must always follow the dice.
Unfortunately, my efforts during the succeeding two days to turn Larry into Lao-Tzu were confounded by his child's good sense; he gave the dice only extremely pleasant alternatives - ice cream, movies, zoos, horsey, trucks, bikes, money. He began to use the dice as a treasure chest. I finally told him that the dice man game always had to provide risk, that slightly bad choices had to be there too. Surprisingly he agreed. I invented for him that week a dice game which has since become one of our classics: Russian roulette. The initial version of the game for Larry was simple: out of every six alternatives one had to be decidedly unpleasant.
As a result, Larry had some interesting experiences over the next five or six days. (Evie returned to her dolls and to Mrs. Roberts.) He took a long hike in Harlem (I told him to keep an eye open for a big muscular white man with candy named Osterflood) and he was arrested as a runaway. It took me forty minutes to convince the 26th Precinct that I had encouraged my seven-year-old son to take a hike in Harlem.
The dice sent him to sneak into the movie I Am Curious Yellow, a film involving a certain amount of naked sexual interplay, and he returned mildly curious and greatly bored. He crawled on all fours from our apartment down four flights of stairs and along Madison Avenue to Walgreen's and ordered an ice-cream sundae. Another time he had to throw away three of his toys, on the other hand the dice ordered him a new racing-car set. He twice had to let me beat him in chess and three times I had to let him beat me. He had a wonderful hour making ostentatiously stupid moves and thus making it difficult for me to lose.
The dice ordered him to play Daddy and me little Evie for one hour one day and he was soon bored: my little Evie was too weak and too stupid. But he enjoyed greatly playing Daddy to my Lil two days later. I didn't realize at the time that the seeds of group dice therapy and my Centers far Experiments in Totally Random Environments were being planted while Larry and I gambolled about as Daddy and Lil or Superman and a crook or Lassie and a dangerous hippopotamus.
The first and last crisis of this phase of Larry's dicelife occurred four days after Lil had returned from Florida. My contacts with Larry had decreased, and on his own he sometimes created such farfetched alternatives for the dice that when the dice chose them, he wasn't able to carry them out. For example, he told me just before the crisis that once he had given the die the option of his killing Evie (she had broken his racing-car set). When the die chose it, he said, he decided not to. I asked him why.
`She would have tattled on me and you wouldn't have fixed my car.'
`If she were dead how could she tattle on you?' I asked.
`Don't worry, she'd find a way.'
The crisis was simple: Larry's dice told him to steal three dollars from Lil's purse and he spent it on twenty-three comic
books (a whim of the die which he told me he resented deeply, being quite fond of bubble gum, lollipops, dart guns
and chocolate sundaes). Lil wondered where he got the money for all the comic books. He refused to tell her, insisting
that she asked Daddy. She did.
`It's very simple, Lil,' I said and while she was putting on Evie's shoes for the fifth time within the hour I consulted the die: I was ordered (one chance in six) to tell the truth.
`I was playing a dice game with him and he lost and had to steal three dollars from your purse.'
She stared at me, a strand of blonde hair dangling on her forehead and her blue eyes momentarily blank with
`He had to steal three dollars from my purse?'
I was seated in my easy chair puffing on a pipe and with a copy of the Times spread across my lap.
`It's a stupid little game I invented while you were gone to help Larry learn self-discipline. Certain options are created
by the player, some of them unpleasant, like stealing, and then the dice choose which one you have to do.'
'Who has to do?'
She shooed Evie off to the kitchen and advanced to the edge of the couch, where she lit a cigarette. She'd had a good
time in Daytona and we'd enjoyed a nice reunion, but she was beginning to look less tanned and more flushed.
`The player, or players.'
`I don't know what you're talking about.'
`It's simple,' I said (I love these two words: I always imagine Immanuel Kant pronouncing them before he set down the
first sentence of The Critique of Pure Reason, or an American President before launching into an explanation of
Vietnam War policy).
`To encourage Larry to branch out into new areas of this young-'
`-new areas of his young life, I invented a game whereby you make up things to do'
`But stealing, Luke, I mean-'
`Which the dice then choose from among.'
`And stealing was one of the options.'
`It's all in the family,' I said.
She stared at me from near the edge of the couch, her arms folded across her chest, a cigarette between her fingers.
She looked amazingly calm.
`Luke,' she began speaking slowly. `I don't know what you think you're doing lately; I don't know whether you're sane or insane; I don't know if you're trying to destroy me or trying to destroy your children or trying to destroy yourself, but if you if you - once more involve Larry in any of your sick games - I -I'll..'
Her amazingly calm face suddenly split like a broken mirror into dozens of cracks of tension, her eyes filled with tears and she twisted her face to the side and gasped a suppressed scream.
`Don't. Please don't,' she whispered, and she sat abruptly on the arm of the couch, her face still averted. `Go tell him no more games. Never.'
'I stood up, the Times fluttering to the floor.
`I'm sorry, Lil. I didn't realize `Never - Larry - more games.'
`I'll tell him.'
I left the room and went to his bedroom and told him, and his career as dice-boy, after only eight days, ended.
Until the Die resurrected it.
My childhood! My childhood! My God, I've now written over a hundred and ten pages and you don't even know whether I was bottle fed or breast fed! You don't know when I was first weaned and how; when I first discovered that girls don't have any weeny, how much I brooded because girls don't have any weeny, when I first decided to enjoy the fact that girls don't have any weeny. You don't know who my great-grandparents were, my grandparents; you don't even know about my mother and father? My siblings! My milieu! My socioeconomic background! My early traumas! My early joys!, The signs and portents surrounding my birth! Dear friends, you don't know any of that `David Copperfield kind of crap' (to quote Howard Hughes) which is the very essence of autobiography! Relax, my friends, I don't intend to tell you.
Traditional autobiographers wish to help you understand how the adult was `formed.'
I suppose most human beings, like clay chamber pots, are 'formed'- and are used accordingly. But I? I am born anew at each green fall of the die, and by die-ing I eliminate my since. The past - paste, pus, piss - is all only illusory events created by a stone mask to justify an illusory stagnant present. Living flows, and the only possible justification of an autobiography is that it happened by chance to be written - like this one. Someday a higher creature will write the almost perfect and totally honest autobiography 'I live.'
I will acknowledge, however, that I did, in fact, have a human mother. This much I admit.
In November I received a telephone call from Dr. Mann informing me that Eric Cannon had been acting up while I'd been away a week at a convention in Houston, that it had bees necessary to increased his medication (tranquilizers) and would I please make a special trip over as soon as possible and see him. Eric might have to be transferred to another institution. In my temporary office on the Island I read through Head Nurse Herbie Flamm's report on Eric Cannon.
It had a kind of novelistic power that Henry James sought for fifty years without finding:
It is necessary to report that Patient Eric Cannon is a troublemaker. There haven't been many patients in my lifetime that I would have to label that, but this is one. Cannon is a consciously evil troublemaker. He is disturbing the other patients. Although I have always kept this one of the quietest [sic] wards on the island, since he has been here it is noisy and a mess. Patients who haven't said a word in years now can't shut up. Patients that have stood always in the same corner now play pitch and catch with chairs. Many of the patients are now singing and laughing. This disturbs the patients who want peace and quiet to get better. Someone keeps destroying the television set. I think Mr. Cannon is schizophrenic. Sometimes he wanders around the ward nice and quiet like he was in a dreamworld and other times he sneaks around like a snake, hissing at me and the patients like he was the boss of the ward and not me.
Unfortunately he has followers. Many patients are now refusing sedation. Some do not go to the machine shop for factory therapy. Two patients confined to wheelchairs have pretended to walk. Patients are showing disrespect for the hospital food. When one man was ill to his stomach, another patient began eating the vomit, claiming it tasted much better that way. We do not have enough maximum security rooms on the ward. Also patients who are refusing or not swallowing their sedation will not stop singing and laughing when we politely ask. Disrespect is everywhere. I have sometimes had the feeling on the ward that I do not exist. I mean to say no one pays attention any more. My attendants are often tempted to treat the patients with physical force but I remind them of the Hypocratic Oath. Patients will not stay in their beds at night. Talking with each other is going on. Meetings I think. They whisper. I do not know if there is a rule against this, but I recommend that a rule is made. Whispering is worse than singing.
We have sent several of his followers to ward W [the violent ward] but patient Cannon is tricky. He never does anything himself. I think he is spreading illegal drugs on the ward but none have been found. He never does anything and everything is happening.
I have this to report. It is serious. On September 10, at 2.30 P.M. in the Main Room right in front of the destroyed and lifeless television set, a large group of patients began hugging each other. They had a circle with their arms around each other and they were humming or moaning and kept getting closer and humming and swaying or pulsating like a giant jellyfish or human heart and they were all men. They did this and attendant R. Smith attempted to break them up but their circle was very strong. I attempted to break their circle also as gently as I could but as I was so endeavoring the circle suddenly opened and two men physically clamped me with their arms and hands and I was drawn against my total will into the horrible circle. It was disgusting beyond my ability to say.
The patients showed no respect but continued their illegal hugging until four attendants from ward T plus R. Smith rescued me by breaking up the circle as gently as they could, unfortunately accidentally breaking my arm (the lower tibia minor, I believe).
This event is typical of the poor conditions which have developed on our ward since patient Cannon came. He was in the circle but since there were eight, Dr. Vener said we couldn't send them all to ward W. Hugging is also not technically against the rules which again shows the need for more thinking.
The boy never talks to me. But I hear. Among the patients I have friends. They say he is against mental hospitals. You should know that. They say he is the ringleader of all the trouble. That he is trying to make all the patients happy and not pay attention to us. They say he says that patients ought to take aver the hospital. That he says even if he leaves them he will come back. These patients, my friends, say this.
Because of the facts what I have written I must respectfully recommend to you;
That all sedation be given by needle to prevent patients from falsely swallowing their tranquilizers and remaining active and noisy during the day.
That all illegal drugs should be strictly forbidden.
That strict rules be developed and enforced regarding singing, laughing, whispering, and hugging.
That a special iron mesh cage be developed to protest the television set and that its cord go directly from the set which is ten feet off the floor to the ceiling to protect the wire from those who would deny the television set to those who want to watch it. This is freedom of speech. The iron mesh must form about inch wide squares, thick enough to prevent flying objects from entering and smashing the screen but letting people still see the TV screen although with a
waffle-griddle effect. The TV must go on.
Most important. That patient Eric Cannon be transferred respectfully someplace else. .
Head Nurse Flamm sent this report to myself, Dr. Varier, Dr. Mann, Chief Supervisor Hennings, State Mental Hospital Director Alfred Coles, Mayor John Lindsay and Governor Nelson Rockefeller. - I had seen Eric only three times since my Jesus session with him and he had been extremely tense each time and done very little talking, but when he walked into my office that afternoon he came as quietly as a lamb into a grassy meadow.
He moved to the window and stared out. He was wearing blue jeans, a rather soiled T-shirt, sneakers and a gray hospital shirt, unbuttoned. His hair was quiet long, but his skin was paler than it had been in September. After about a minute -he turned and lay down on the short couch to the left of the desk.
`Mr. Flamm,' I said, `reports that he believes that you are stirring up the patients to - improper behavior.'
To my surprise he answered right away.
'Yeah, improper. Bad. Lousy. That's me,' he said, staring at he green ceiling. `It took me a long time to realize what the bastards are up to, to realize that the good-game is their most effective method of keeping their fucking system going. When I did, it made me rage against the way I'd been fooled. All my kindness and forgiveness and meekness just let the system step on everybody all the more comfortably. Love is groovy if it's for good guys but to love the fuzz, love the army; love Nixon, love the church, whoa man, that is one lost trip.'
While he was speaking I took out my pipe and began filling it with marijuana. When he finally paused I said: `Dr. Mann indicates that if Flamm continues to complain you'll have to be transferred to Ward W.'
`Oh, boohoohoo,' he said, not looking at me. `It's all the same. It's a system, you see. A machine. You work hard to keep the machine going, you're a good guy; you goof off or try to stop the machine and you're a commie or a loony. The machine may be blowing blacks under like weeds, or scattering ten-ton bombs over Vietnam like firecrackers or overthrowing reform governments in Latin America every other month, but the old machine must be kept working. Oh man, when I saw this I vomited for a week. Locked myself in my room for six months.'
He paused and we both listened to the birds singing away among the maple trees outside the building. I lit the pipe and took a deep toke. I exhaled, the smoke drifting idly in his direction.
`And all that time I began slowly to feel that something important was going to happen to me, that I was chosen for some special mission. I had only to fast and to wait. When I bopped my father in the face and was sent here I knew even more certainly that something was going to happen. Knew it.' He stopped talking and sniffed twice. I took another drag on my pipe.
`Has anything happened yet?' I asked.
He watched me take another lungful and then settled back onto the couch. He reached into kiss hair and brought out a home made joint.
`Got a match?' he said.
'If you're going to smoke, share mine,' I said.
He leaned over to take the pipe, but it was out, so I handed him the matches too. He lit up and for the next three minutes we passed the pipe back and forth in silence: He was staring at the ceiling as if its green cracks contained like the back of a turtle's shell, portents of the future. By the time the pipe ovens out a second time, I was pleasantly high. I felt happy, as if I were embarking on a new voyage that for the first time, even in my dice man life, represented real, rather than superficial change.
My eyes were focused on his face, which, under the influence of his high perhaps, was glowing. He smiled with a peacefulness well within my understanding. His hands were folded across his belly, and he lay like a dead man, but glowing, glowing. His voice when he spoke was slow, thick and gentle, as if it came from way off in the clouds.
`About three weeks ago I got up in the middle of the night when all the attendants were asleep to take a piss, but I didn't have to take a piss. I was drawn into the day room as if by a magnet and there I stared out through the window at the Manhattan skyline. Manhattan: the central cog of the machine, or maybe just the sewage system. I knelt and I prayed. Yeah, I prayed. To the Spirit, which had lifted Christ above the mass of men to bring His Spirit to me, to give to me the light that could light the world. To let me become the way, the truth and the light. Yeah.'
He paused and I emptied the ashes out into an ashtray and began refilling the pipe.
`How long I prayed, I can't tell. Suddenly, wham! I was flooded by a light that made an acid trip seem like sniffing
glue. I couldn't see. My body seemed to swell, my spirit swelled, I seemed to expand until I filled the whole universe.
The world was me.'
He paused briefly, the sound of the Jefferson Airplane coming from someplace up, the hall.
'I hadn't smoked a thing for three days. I wasn't loony. I filled the whole universe.'
He paused again.
`I was crying. I was weeping for joy. I was on my feet I guess, and the whole world was all light and was all me and it
was good. I stood with my arms outstretched to embrace everything and then I was conscious of this terrific mad grin I had on my face and the vision kind of faded and I shrunk back to me. But I felt that, I knew that I had been given a job … a role, a mission … yeah. This gray-green hellhouse couldn't be left standing. The gray factories, the gray offices, the gray buildings, the gray people .. . everything without light. .. has to go. I saw it. I see it. What I'd been waiting for had happened. The Spirit I'd been looking for, I . . . had . . . I know, I'm not for all men. The mass of men will always see and live in the gray world. But a few will follow me, a few, and we'll change the world.'
I passed him the relit pipe when he'd finished talking and he took it and inhaled and passed it back to me. He didn't
look at me.
`And you, what's your game?' he said. `You're not smoking pot, with me just because you feel like smoking pot.'
`No' I said.
He stared at the green ceiling until I passed him back the pipe. When he finally exhaled he said again as if from very
far away: `If you want to follow me you must give up everything.'
`Pot-smoking doctors who get stoned with mental patients don't stay doctors long.'
I felt like giggling.
`Wives and brothers and fathers and mothers don't usually like my way.'
`So I gather.'
`Someday you will help me.'
We were both staring at the ceiling now, the hot bowl of the pipe resting unused in the palm of my hand.
`Yes,' I said.
`It's a marvelous game we'll play - the best,' he said.
`For some reason I feel I'm yours,' I said. `Whatever you want me to do, I'll want to do.'
`Everything will happen.'
`The blind bastards [his voice was quiet and serene and remote] will panic and kill, panic and kill, trying to control the
uncontrollable, trying to kill what can only live.'
`We will panic and kill.'
`And I'll,' he interrupted himself with a chuckle, `I'll try to save the whole fucking world'
`I'm Divine, you know,' he said.
`Yes,' I said, believing it.
`I've come to wake the world to evil, to goose mankind to good.'
'We'll hate you-'
`To slash the mash-potato minds until their sirs is seen.
'We'll be blind-'
`Try to make the blind see, the lame walk, the dead live again.'
`And we'll try to make the seeing blind, the walking lame, the living dead.'
`I'll be the insane Savior of the world, and you'll kill me.'
`Whatever you want will be done.'
I eased out a slow motion bubbling of mirth.
He was chuckling too, in slow motion. `I'll be . . . the Savior . . . of the world . . . and do nothing, and you .. .'ll kill … me.'
`And I . .' Goddam it, it was funny! How beautiful it was `… I'll kill you.'
The room was a beautiful blur bouncing up and down on the bubbles of our laughter. Tears were in my eyes and I took of my glasses and put my face in my folded arms and laughed, my big body rumbling from cheeks to belly to knees, laughing, tears wetting my jacket, the soft cotton material caressing my wet face like bear's bristle, and crying with an ecstasy that I hadn't known before that moment, and looking up because I couldn't believe I was crying and Eric's face blurred, blurred bright but blurred and I looked for my glasses - such terror that I might never see again - and after groping for forty days I found them and put them on and looked at the blurred brightness and it was Eric's holy face flowing tears like mine and he wasn't laughing.
[Being an edited tape from one of the early analytic sessions given by Dr. Jacob Ecstein to Dr. Lucius Rhinehart, neurotic. We are cutting into the tape about half way through the analytic hour. The first voice is that of Dr. Rhinehart.]
- I'm not sure why I entered into this affair but I think it may partially be aggression against the husband. How have your relations with Lillian been? - Fine. Or rather, about as usual, which means up and down but essentially
happy. I don't think it was or is aggression against Lil. At least I don't think it is.
But against the husband.
Yes. I won't use names or go into details because you know the people involved, but I find the husband too ambitious
and conceited. I experience him as a rival.
You don't need to hide the names. You know it would make no difference outside this office how I treated them.
Well, maybe. I suppose you're right, but I don't think the names should be necessary if I can present everything else
honestly. - The details.
Yes. Although I suppose you will know then immediately the people I'm talking about. But still, I'll omit the names. How did the affair start? - I followed . . . a whim one night and went to her place, found her alone, and raped her. Raped her?
Well, there was a good deal of cooperation. Actually, she enjoyed it more than I did. But the original idea was mine.
We've been seeing each other off and on now for about half a year.
Mmmm. I go to her place when her husband's away, or occasionally we meet in a room I rent in a Puerto Rican neighborhood.
Sexually it's been rewarding. The woman seems totally without inhibitions. I've tried just about everything my
imagination can cook up and she seems to have more recipes than me.
I see. The husband doesn't seem to suspect a thing. He doesn't suspect a thing.
No. He seems completely wrapped up in his work. His wife says he pulls off a quick one about once every two weeks but with about as much passion or pleasure as when making an extended bowel movement. Mmmm. I once finished an orgasm in her while she was handing a towel in to her husband in the bathtub.
You what? I was pumping away from behind while she leaned into the bathroom and talked to her husband and handed him a towel.
Look here, Rhinehart, do you know what you're saying?
I thought I did.
How could you … How could you possibly…
What's the matter?
How could you possibly miss the significance of this affair?
I don't know. It seems just…
I'll feed you words and you free associate.
Water. Ah. . . bathtub.
Fucking from rear.
- Ar . . . ah . . . ah . . . artificial.
How so? -How should I know? I'm just free associating.
Let's go on. Father.
Well. That's enough. It was just as I expected.
What do you mean?
That was your father in the bathtub.
Obviously. Item number one: you associate father figure. You may consciously explain this as a result of the psychoanalytic phrase and it does refer to this, but the association also implies you associate a `figure' - naturally a female figure - with father.
Item number two. You associate `fucking from rear' with artificial and you can blurt it out only after a significant
delay. I challenge you to tell me what first flashed through your mind.
To be frank with you, I thought that the fucking was artificial, unnecessary, irrelevant. I was aiming to hurt someone
… someone bigger.
Precisely. Item number three: from the rear is obviously the position of sodomy, or male making love to male.
But Item number four: you associate lake with Tahoe. Tahoe, even if your conscious mind denies it, means in Cherokee `Big Father Chief.' Lake obviously means water and you associated water with bathtub. Ergo: Big Father Chief was in the bathtub.
Wow. Finally, although these are but trivial confirmations of what now is obvious to you, you associate with `thirst', `water.' You thirst not for women but for water, for bathtub, for your father. At the end, the free association seems to break
down as you associate both your mother and father with women, but in fact it is further confirmation of the whole significance of your extramarital affair and of this free association your incestuous, homosexual love for your father. That's incredible. That's absolutely … wham … [Long pause] . . But what… what does it all mean?
How so? I've told you.
I mean . . . what should I do about it? 'Ah so. Details. Your urge for this woman will probably evaporate now that you know the truth.
My father died when I was two.
Precisely. I need say no more.
He was six foot and blond. The husband is five feet eight and dark.
My father never took baths, only showers, or so my mother tells me.
When a woman is handing a towel in to her husband and chatting with him, it's inconvenient to penetrate her from the
I didn't know Tahoe meant Big Father Chief.
I think I'm still going to enjoy making love to this woman.
I challenge you to examine your fantasies when you do.
I usually fantasize I'm doing it with my wife. ,
The hour's up.
Days pass, Reader. So do weeks. Since I have a poor memory and kept no journal during these now-to-be-recorded days, the precise sequence of events is no clearer in my mind than it is in these pages. The dice didn't order me to write my autobiography until almost three years after my discovery, and the historic value of everything I did was not apparent to me at the time.
On the other hand, my selective defective memory presumably is hitting only the high points. Perhaps it is giving to my random life a pattern which total recall would blur. Let us assume, then, that what I forget is on a priori grounds insignificant, and what I remember is, in the same way, of great moment. It may not seem that way to either of us, but it makes a convenient theory of autobiography. Also, if the transitions from chapter to chapter or scene to scene seem particularly illogical, attribute it to either my arbitrary memory or the random fall of a die: it makes the trip more psychedelic.
In the evolution of the totally random man the next event worth noting is that on January 2, 1969 at 1 A.M. I determined to begin the new year (I'm a slow starter) by letting the dice determine my long-term fate.
I wrote with un-firm hand and dazed eyes the first option, for snake-eyes or double sixes: I would leave my wife and children and begin a separate life. I trembled (which is hard for a man with so much meat on him) and felt proud. Sooner or later the dice would roll a two or a twelve and the cast great test of the dice's ability to destroy the self would occur. If I left Lil there would be no turning back; it would be dice unto death.
But then I felt fatigued. The dice man seemed boring, unattractive, other. It seemed like too much work. Why not relax and enjoy everyday life, play around in minor ways with the dice as I had at the beginning, and forgo this senseless, theatrical challenge of killing the self? I had discovered an interesting tonic, more varied than alcohol, less dangerous that LSD, more challenging than stocks or sex. Why not accept it as tonic rather than try to make it a magic potion? I had but one life to lead, why sacrifice it to becoming locked in the cage of a rolling cube? For the first time in the six months since becoming the dice man, the thought of totally giving up -the dice appealed tome.
I wrote as the option for a 6, 7 or 8 that I return to a normal diceless life for six months. I felt pleased.
But immediately thereafter, my friends, I felt frightened, depressed. The realization that I might be without the dice produced precisely the same heavy depression, which the thought of being without Lil had produced. Erasing the 7 as a possibility for the option of giving up the dice, I felt a little better. I tore up the entire page and dropped it in the waste basket: I would abandon the whole conception of long-range dice decisions. I heaved myself up out of my chair and walked slowly off to the bathroom where I brushed my teeth and washed my face. I stared at myself in the mirror.
Clark Kent stared back at me, clean-cut and mediocre. Re moving my glasses helped, primarily because it blurred the image sufficiently so that my imagination was given leeway.
The blurred face was at first eyeless and mouthless; a faceless nobody. By concentrating I conjured up two gray slits and a toothless mouth; a death's head. With my glasses back on it was just me again. Luke Rhinehart, M.D., the Clark Kent of New York psychoanalysis. But where was Superman? Indeed, that was what this water-closet identity crisis was all about. Where indeed was Superman an if I went back to bed? Back at my desk I rewrote the first two options; leaving Lil and giving up the dice. I then gave one chance in five to the option that I decide at the beginning of each of the next seven months (until the birthday of D-day in mid-August) what each particular month was to be devoted to. I gave the same probability to the option that I try to write a novel for seven months. Slightly better odds went to the option that I spend three months touring Europe and the rest of the time traveling at the whim of the die. My last option was to turn my sex research with Dr. Felloni over to the imagination of the dice.
The first bi-annual fate-dealing day had arrived - a momentous occasion. I blessed the dice in the name of Nietzsche, Freud, Jake Ecstein and Norman Vincent Peale and shook them in the bowl of my hands, rattling them hard against my palms. I gurgled with anticipation: the next half-year of my life, perhaps even more, trembled in my hands. The dice tumbled across the desk; there was a six and there was a … three. Nine - survival, anticlimax, in-conclusion, even disappointment; the dice had ordered me to decide anew each month what my special fate was to be.
National Habit-Breaking Month must have been dictated by the die in a fit of pique over my easy enjoyment of my dicelife; the month provided a hundred little blasts toward the breaking up of Lucius Rhinehart, M.D. Habit breaking had won out over (1) dedicated psychiatrist month, (2) begin-writing-a-novel month, (3) vacation-in-Italy month, (4) be-kind-to everybody month, and (5) help-Arturo-X month. The command was, to be precise, `I will attempt at every moment of every day of this month to alter my habitual behavior patterns.'
First of all it meant that when I rolled over to cuddle Lil at dawn I had to roll back again and stare at the wall. After staring a few minutes and then beginning to doze off, I realized that I never rose at dawn, so with effort and resentment, I got out of bed. Both feet were in my slippers and I was plodding toward the bathroom before I realized habit had me in his fist. I kicked off my slippers and plodded, then jogged into the living room. I still, however, felt like urinating. Triumphantly, I did so in a vase of artificial gladioli. (Three days later Dr. Felloni remarked on how well they seemed to be doing.) A few minutes later I woke up in the same standing position, conscious that I still had a silly proud smile on my face. Careful examination of my conscience revealed that I did not make a habit of falling asleep on my feet after urinating is the living room so I let myself doze off again.
`What are you doing?' a voice said through my sleep.
`Luke, what are you doing?'
I saw Lil standing nude with her arms folded across her chest looking at me.
`Come back to bed.'
I started to follow her back to bed but remembered that following nude women into beds was habitual. When Lil had
plopped in and pulled the blankets over her I crawled under the bed.
I didn't answer.
The squeak of springs and the wandering low-cloud ceiling above me implied that Lil was leaning over first on one
and then on the other side of the bed. The spread was lifted and her upside-down face peered into my sideways face.
We looked at each other for thirty seconds. Without a word her face disappeared and the bed above me became still.
`I want you,' I said. `I want to make love to you.'
(The prosaicness of the prose was compensated for by the poetry of my position.) When the silence continued I felt an
admiration for Lil. Any normal, mediocre woman would have (a) sworn, (b) looked under the bed again, or (c) shouted
at me. Only a woman of high intelligence and deep sensitivity would have remained silent.
`I'd love to have your prick inside me,' her voice suddenly said.
I was frightened: a contest of wills. I must not reply habitually.
`I want your left knee,' I said.
`I want to come between your toes,' I went on.
`I want to feel your Adam's apple bob up and down,' she said.
I began humming `The Battle Hymn of the Republic.'
I lifted the springs above me with all my might. She rolled off to one side. I changed my position to try to push her
off. She rolled back into the middle. My arms were exhausted. Although whatever I did from under the bed was, a
priori, a non-habitual act, my back was aching. I got out from under, stood up and stretched.
`I don't like your games, Luke,' Lil said quietly.
`The Pittsburgh Pirates have won three games in a row but remain mired in third place.'
`Please come to bed and be yourself.'
`Any one except this morning's version.'
Habit pulled me toward the bed, the dice pulled back.
`I have to think about dinosaurs,' I said and, realizing I'd said it in my normal voice, I repeated it shouting. When I saw
that I had used my habitual shout I started to emit a third version, but-realized that three of anything approached habit
and so half-shouted, half-mumbled, `Breakfast with dinosaurs in bed,' and went into the kitchen.
Halfway there I tried to vary my walk and ended up crawling the last fifteen feet.
`What are you doing, Daddy?'
Larry stood sleepy-eyed but fascinated in the entrance to the kitchen. I didn't want to upset him. I had to watch my
`I'm looking for mice.'
`Oh boy, can I look?'
`No, they're dangerous.'
`These mice are man-eaters.'
`Oh Daddy .. : [Scornfully].'
`I'm teasing [An habitual phrase; I shook my head].'
'Go back to be - [Another!]'
`Look under your mother's bed, I think they may have gone under there.'
Not a great many seconds later Larry came back from our bedroom accompanied by a bathrobed Lil. I was on my
knees at the stove about to heat a pot of water.
`Don't you involve the children in your games.'
Since I never lose my temper at Lil I lost it.
`Shut your mouth! You'll scare them all away.'
`Don't you say shut up to me!'
`One more word out of you and I'll ram a dinosaur down your throat.'
I stood up and strode toward her, fists clenched.
They both looked terrified. I was impressed.
`Go back to bed, Larry,' Lil said, shielding him and backing away.
`Get down on your knees and pray for mercy, Lawrence, NOW!' Larry ran for his bedroom, crying.
'Fie upon you!'
'Don't you dare hit me.'
`My God, you're insane,' Lil said.
I hit her, rather restrainedly; on the left shoulder.
She hit me, rather unrestrainedly, in the left eye.
I sat down on the kitchen floor.
`For breakfast is what?'
I asked, at least reversing the syntax.
`Are you through?'
`I surrender everything.'
`Come back to bed.'
`Except my honor.'
`You can keep your honor in your underwear; but come back to bed and behave.'
I jogged back to bed ahead of Lil and lay as rigid as a board for forty minutes at which point Lil commanded me to
get out of bed. Immediately and rigidly I obeyed. I stood like a robot beside the bed.
`Relax,' she commanded irritably from the dresser.
I collapsed to the floor, ending as painlessly as possible on my side and back. Lil came over and looked down at me
for a moment and then kicked me in the thigh. `Act normal,' she said.
I rose, did six squats arms extended and went to the kitchen.
For breakfast I had a hot dog, two pieces of uncooked carrot, coffee with lemon and maple syrup, and toast cooked
twice until it was blackened with peanut butter and radish. Lil was furious; primarily because both Larry and Evie wanted desperately to have for breakfast what I was having and ended up crying in frustration. Lil too. - I jogged down Fifth Avenue from my apartment to my office, attracting considerable attention since I was (1) jogging: (2) gasping like a fish drowning in air; and (3) dressed in a tuxedo over a red T-shirt with large white letters declaring The Big Red.
At the office Miss Reingold greeted me formally, neutrally and; I must admit, with secretarial aplomb. Her cold, ugly
efficiency stimulated me to break new ground in our relationship.
`Mary Jane, baby,' I said. `I've got a surprise this morning. I've decided to fire you.'
Her mouth neatly opened, revealing two precisely parallel rows of crooked teeth.
`As of tomorrow morning.'
`But - but Dr. Rhinehart, I don't under `It's simple, knee-knocker. I've been hornier in the last few weeks, want a
receptionist who's a good lay.'
`You're efficient, but you've got a flat ass. Hired a 38-24-37 who knows all about fellatio, post hoc propter id,
soixante-neuf, gesticulation and proper filing procedures.'
She was backing slowly towards Dr. Ecstein's office, eyes bulging, teeth gleaming like two parallel armies in disarray.
`She starts tomorrow morning,' I went on. `Has her own contraceptive device, I understand. You'll get full pay through
the end of the century. Good-bye and good luck.'
I had begun jogging in place about halfway through my tirade and at its conclusion I sprinted neatly into my office.
Miss Reingold was last seen sprinting not so neatly into Jake's.
I assumed the traditional lotus position on my desk and wondered what Miss Reingold would do with my chaotic
cruelties. After minimal investigation I concluded that she had been given something to fill her dull life. I pictured her years hence with two dozen nieces and nephews clustered around her chubby knees telling them about the wicked doctor who stuck pins in patients and raped others and, under the influence of LSD and imported Scotch, fired good, hard-working people and replaced them with raving nymphomaniacs.
Feeling superior in my imaginative faculties and uncomfortable in my yoga position I stretched both arms upward. A knock on the door. .
`Yo!' I answered, arms still outstretched, my tuxedo straining grotesquely. Jake stuck his head in.
`Say, Luke, baby, Miss Reingold was telling me som-' He saw me. Jake's habitual piercing squint couldn't quite
negotiate the sight: he blinked twice.
`What's up, Luke?' he asked tentatively.
I laughed. `Oh this,' I said, fingering the tuxedo. `Late party last night. I'm trying to wake myself up before Osterflood
comes. Hope I didn't upset Miss R: He hesitated, his chubby neck and round face still the only parts of him which had
eased their way into the room.
`Well,' he said, `yeah. She says you fired her.'
`Nonsense,' I replied. `I was telling her a joke I heard at the party last night; it was a little raunchy perhaps, but nothing
that would upset Mary Magdalen.'
`Yeah,' he said, his traditional squint gathering strength, his glasses like two flying saucers with slits concealing deadly ray guns. `Righto,' he said. `Sorry to bother you.' His face vanished, the door eased shut. While meditating I was interrupted a few minutes later by the door opening and
Jake's glasses reappearing.
`She wants me to make sure she's not fired.'
`Tell her to come to work tomorrow fully prepared.'
When Osterflood strode in I was limping around the room trying to get the circulation back into my feet' He walked
automatically to the couch but I stopped him.
`No you don't, Mr. O. Today you sit over there and I'll use the couch.'
I made myself comfortable while he lumbered uncertainly to the chair behind my desk.
`What's the matter. Dr. Rhinehart, do you-'
`I feel elated today,' I began, noting in the corner of the ceiling an impressive cobweb. For how many years had my
patients been staring at that? `I feel I've made a major breakthrough on the road to the New Man.'
`What new man?'
`The Random Man. The unpredictable man. I feel today I am demonstrating that habits can be broken. That man is
`I wish I could break my habit of raping little girls,' he said, trying to get the focus back on himself.
`There's hope, Oh there's hope. Just do the opposite of everything you normally do. If you feel like raping them,
shower them with candy and kindness and then leave. If you feel like beating a whore, have her beat you. If you feel
like seeing me, go to a movie instead.'
`But that's not easy. I like hurting people.'
`True, but you may find you'll get a kick out of kindness, too. Today, for example, I found running to work much more
meaningful than my usual cab ride. I also found my cruelty to Miss Reingold, refreshing. I used to enjoy being nice to
`I wondered why she was crying. What happened?'
`I accused her of bad breath and body odor.'
`That was a horrible thing to do. I'd never do a thing like that.'
`I hope not. But the city health authorities had issued a formal complaint that the entire building was beginning to
stink. I had no choice.'
In the ensuing silence I heard his chair squeak; he may have tipped back in it, but from where I lay I couldn't tell. I
could see only part of two walls, bookcases, books, my cobweb and a single small portrait of Socrates draining the
hemlock. My taste in soothing pictures for patients seemed dubious.
`I've been pretty cheerful lately too,' Osterflood said meditatively, and I realized I wanted to get the focus back on my
`Of course, habit breaking can also be a chore,' I said. 'For example, I find it difficult to improvise new methods and
places for urinating.'
`I think . . . I almost think you may have brought me toward a breakthrough,' Osterflood said, ignoring me.
`I'm particularly concerned with my next bowel movement,' I went on. `There seem to be definite limits as to what
society will stand for. All sorts of eccentricity and nonsensical horrors can be permitted - wars, murder, marriage, slums - but that bowel movements should be made anywhere except in the toilet seems to be pretty universally considered despicable.'
`You know that if . . . I felt that if I could just kick my little girl addiction, just … lose interest, I'd be all right. The big
ones don't mind, or can be bought'
`Also locomotion. There are only a certain number of limited ways of moving from spot A to spot B. Tomorrow, for
example, I won't feel free to jog to work. What can I do? Walk backward?'
I looked over to Osterflood with a serious frown, but he was immersed in his own thoughts.
`But now … lately … I got to admit it … I seem to be losing my interest in little girls.'
`Walking backwards a solution, of course, but only a temporary one. After that and crawling and running backward
and hopping on one foot, I'll feel confined, limited, repetitious, a robot'
`And that's good, I know it is. I mean I hate little girls and now that I'm less interested in fucking them I feel that's …
definitely an advance.'
He looked down at me sincerely and I looked sincerely back.
`Conversations too are a problem,' I said. `Our syntax is habitual, our diction, our coherence. I have a habit of logical
thought which clearly must be broken. And vocabulary. Why do I accept the limits of our habitual words. I'm a clod! A clod!'
`But … but … lately … I'm afraid … I've sensed … I'm almost afraid to say it…'
`Umpwillis. Art fodder. Wishmonger. Gladsull. Parminkson. Jombie. Blit. Why not? Man has limited himself
artificially to the past. I feel myself breaking free.'
`. . that I'm, I feel I'm beginning to want, to be like . . . little boys.'
`A breakthrough. A definite breakthrough if I can continue to contradict my habitual patterns as I have this morning.
And sex. Sexual patterns must be broken too . .
`I mean really like them,' he said emphatically; `Not want to rape them or hurt them or anything like that, just bugger
them and have them suck me off.'
`Possibly this experiment could get me into dangerous ground. I suppose since I've habitually not been interested in
raping little girls that theoretically I ought to try it.'
`And boys … little boys are easier to get at. They're more trusting, less suspicious.'
`But really hurting someone frightens me. I suppose - No! It is a limitation. A limitation I must overcome. To be free
from habitual inhibitions I will have to rape and kill: His chair squeaked, and I heard one of his feet hit the ground.
`No,' he said firmly. `No, Dr. Rhinehart. I'm trying to tell you, raping and killing aren't necessary anymore. Even
hitting may be out.'
`Raping, or at least killing, is absolutely necessary to the Random Man. To shirk that would be to shirk a clear duty.'
`Boys, little boys, even teen-age boys, will do just as good, I'm sure. It's dangerous with little girls, Doc, I warn you.'
`Danger is necessary. The whole concept of the Random Man is the most dangerous and revolutionary ever conceived
by man. If total victory demands blood then blood it must be.'
`No, Dr. Rhinehart, no. You must find another way to work it out. A less dangerous way. These are human beings
you're talking about.'
`Only according to our habitual perceptive patterns. It may well be that little girls are actually fiends from another
world sent to destroy us.
He didn't reply but I heard the chair give one small squeak.
`It's quite clear,' I went on, `that without little girls we wouldn't have women, and women - snorfu buck clisting rinnschauer.'
`No, no, Doc, you're tempting me. I know it, I see it now. Woman are human beings, they must be.'
`Call them what you will, they differ from us, Osterflood, and you can't deny it' `I know, I know, and boys don't. Boys are us. Boys are good.
I think I could learn to love boys and not to have to worry so much about the police anymore.'
`Candy and kindness to girls, O., and a stiff prick to boys you may be right. It would, for you, definitely be a habit breaker.'
Someone knocked on the door. The hour was, up. As I dazedly rolled my feet onto the floor I felt Mr. Osterflood pumping my hand vigorously: his eyes were blazing with joy.
"This has been the greatest therapeutic hour of my life. You're . . . you're … you're a boy, Dr. Rhinehart, a genuine boy.'
`Thank you, O. I hope you're right.'
Slowly and steadily, my friends, I was beginning to go insane. I found that my residual self was changing. When I chose to let the sleeping dice lie and be my `natural self I discovered that I liked absurd comments, anecdotes, actions. I climbed trees in Central Park, assumed the yoga position of meditation during a cocktail party and oozed esoteric, oracular remarks every two minutes which confused and bored even me. I shouted, `I'm Batman,' at the top of my lungs at the end of a telephone conversation with Dr. Mann - all not because the dice said so, but because I felt like it.
I would break into laughter for no reason at all, I would overreact to situations, becoming angry, fearful or compassionate far in excess of that normally demanded. I wasn't consistent. Sometimes I'd be gay, at others sad; sometimes I'd be articulate, serious, brilliant; at others, absurd, abstracted, dumb. Only my being in the process of analysis with Jake kept me free to walk the streets. As long as I did nothing violent, people could still feel relatively at ease: `Poor Dr. Rhinehart, but Dr. Ecstein is helping him: Lil was becoming increasingly worried about me, but since the die always rejected the option that I tell her the truth, I kept making semi-rational excuses for my absurdities. She talked with Jake and Arlene and Dr. Mann, and they all had perfectly rational and usually brilliant explanations of what was happening, but unfortunately no suggestions as to how to end it.
`In a year or two…' said Dr. Mann benevolently to Lil, who told me she almost started screaming.
I assured her that I'd try harder to control my whims.
National Habit-Breaking Month certainly didn't help matters. How upset people become when confronting the breakdown of patterns, how upset or how joy-filled. My jogging into the office, my absurd speeches, my blasphemous efforts to seduce the sexless and incorruptible Miss Reingold, my drunkenness, my nonsensical behavior with my patients - all brought to those who witnessed them shock and dismay, but also, I began to notice, pleasure.
How we laugh and take joy in the irrational, the purposeless and the absurd: Our longing for these bursts out of us against all the restraints of morality and reason. Riots, revolutions, catastrophes: how they exhilarate us. How depressing it is to read the same news day after day. Oh God, if only something would happen: meaning, if only patterns would break down.
By the end of that month I was thinking if only Nixon would get drunk and say to someone, `Fuck you, buddy: If only William Buckley or Billy Graham would say, `Some of my best friends are Communists'; if only a sportscaster would just once say `Sure is a boring game, folks.'
But they don't. So each of us travels, to Fort Lauderdale, to Vietnam, to Morocco, or gets divorced, or has an affair, or tries a new job, a new neighborhood, a new drug, in a desperate effort to find something new. Patterns, patterns, oh, to break those chains. But we drag our old selves with us and they impose their solid oak frames on all our experience.
But in most ways National Habit-Breaking Month turned out to be impractical; I ended up at one point letting the die decide when I would go to bed and for haw, long I would sleep. My sleeping a random number of hours at randomly selected times quickly made me irritable, washed out and occasionally high, specially when kicked by drugs or alcohol. When and whether I ate, washed, shaved, brushed my teeth were also dice determined for a three-day period. As a result, I once or twice found myself using my portable electric razor in the middle of a midtown crunch of people (passers-by looking around for the camera crew), brushing my teeth in a night-club lavatory, taking baths and getting a rubdown at Vic Tanny's and eating my main meal at 4 A.M. at Nedick's.
Another time the Die ordered me to sensitize myself to every moment, to live each moment fully awake. It seemed a marvelously aesthetic thing to do. I pictured myself as Walter Pater John Ruskin Oscar Wilde all rolled into one. What I first became aware of during Aesthetic Sensitivity Day was that I had the sniffles. I may have had them for months, years even, and never noticed it. In January, thanks to this random command of the Die, I became conscious of a periodic intake of air through my nostrils running through some accumulated mucus which produced a sound normally denoted as a `sniff.'
Were it not for the dice I would have remained an insensitive clod.
I became aware of other previously unrealized sense experiences during that Sensitivity Week. Lying in bed with Lil is the early morning hours I would listen fascinated to the symphony of street noises from below, noises which previously I had named silence - meaning that Larry and Evie were not awake. Admittedly after about two days they became a quite monotonous and second-rate symphony, but for two mornings they - and I - lived again. Another day I went to the Museum of Modern Art and tried desperately to experience aesthetic bliss, decided after half an hour to shoot for simple pleasure and settled at the end of a footsore hour and a half for being content with a low level of pain. My visual sense must have atrophied at some point and even the mighty dice couldn't resurrect it. The next day I was happy the dice killed off Walter Pater.
In general, during that month in clothes I wore what I never wore; in words I swore what I never swore; in-sex I whored what I never whored.
Breaking sexual habits and values was the hardest of all. In rambling down the stairs to merge with Arlene I was not altering my sexual values: I was only fulfilling them. Adultery did break a habit of fidelity, but fidelity was the most trivial of my sexual habit-values. Mary, Mother of Jesus, once suggested that the nature of a person's sexuality defines his whole life, but she knew better than to assume that when one had defined an individual as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or asexual one was done. I at first didn't know better. I assumed in my typical mechanical way that breaking sexual habits meant changing favorite sexual positions, changing women, changing from women to men, from men to boys, changing to total abstention and so on. My polymorphous perverse tendencies were vaguely thrilled by this prospect and I began one night, returning from a party, by trying to penetrate my wife's anus at 2 A.M. in the apartment elevator. Lil, however, not so much indignant or inhibited as uninterested, insisted on getting out of the elevator and going to bed and going to sleep.
Since Arlene and I seemed to have made love in most of the normal conceivable ways, the only way to break habits there, I concluded, was to abstain, or even better, feel guilty about our affair.
When I turned for a new woman I realized that it was my duty according to the mandate to change my taste in women. Therefore my next conquest would have to be old, thin, grey-haired, wear glasses, have big feet and be fond of Doris Day Rock Hudson movies. Although I'm sure many such women exist in New York, I soon realized that they were as difficult to locate and date as the equal number, of women whose figures more or less matched that of Raquel Welch. I would have to lower my standards to old, thin and spiritual and let the other precise trivialities fall as they may.
The image of Miss Reingold leapt to my mind and I shuddered. If I were to break my sexual values I would have to seduce her. When consulted, the die said yes.
Seldom have I felt less respect for the die's judgment. Miss Reingold was undoubtedly the antithesis of all my sexual appetites, the Brigitte Bardot of my netherworld. She wasn't of course old; rather she had the remarkable ability to create at the age of thirty-six the impression she was sixty-three. The idea that she urinated was unthinkable, and I blush even to write about it here. In one thousand two hundred and six days with Ecstein and Rhinehart not once to our knowledge had she used the office bathroom. The only odor she gave off was the pervasive smell of baby powder. I didn't know whether she was flat-chested or not; one doesn't speculate on the measurements of one's mother or grandmother.
Her speech was more chaste than that of a Dickensian heroine; she would read back a report on the sexual activities of a superhuman nymphomaniac as if it were a long, bullish announcement of a corporation's phenomenal growth activities.
At the end she would ask; `Would you like me to change the sentence about Miss Werner's multiple intercourse into parallel structure?'
Nevertheless, not my will, O Die, but Thy will be done, and with morbid fascination I took her out to dinner one evening about three weeks through National Habit-Breaking Month and, as the evening progressed, began to sense, much to my horror, that I might succeed: I went to the men's room after dinner and consulted the die about several possible options, but all it told me to do was smoke to marijuana cigarettes; no cocaine before the tooth-pulling. Squirm as I might, I found myself later that evening sitting beside her on the couch discussing (I swear I didn't introduce the subject) nymphomaniacs. Although I'd begun to note as the hours wore by that she had a pretty smile (when she kept her mouth fully closed), her lowcut black dress on her white body reminded me somehow of a black drape hung on a vertical coffin.
`But do you think nymphomaniacs enjoy their lives?'
I was saying with the spontaneous randomness and blissful indifference which pot smoking and Miss Reingold seemed to produce.
`Oh no,' she said quickly, nudging her spectacles up an eighth of an inch. `They must be very unhappy.'
`Yes, perhaps, but I can't help wondering if the great pleasure they get from being loved by so many men doesn't compensate for their unhappiness.'
'Oh no. Dr. Ecstein told me that according to Rogers, Rogers and Hillsman, eighty-two point five percent receive no pleasure from copulation.'
She was sitting so stiffly on the couch that periodically my pot-polluted vision made me believe I was talking to a dressmaker's dummy.
`Yeah,' I said. `But Rogers nor Rogers nor Hillsman have ever been nymphomaniacs. I doubt they've ever been women.'
I smiled triumphantly. `A theory I'm developing is that nymphomaniacs actually are joy-filled hedonists but lie to psychiatrists that they're frigid in order to seduce the psychiatrists.'
'Oh no;' she said. `Who could ever seduce a psychiatrist?'
For a moment we blinked incredulously at each other, and then she went through a kaleidoscope of colors, ending with
`You're right,' I said firmly. `The woman is a patient and our code of ethics prevents our giving in to them, but…'
I trailed off, losing the thread of my argument.
In her small voice, with her two hands wrestling with her handkerchief, she asked `But . . .?'
'But?' I echoed.
`You said your code prevents you from ever giving into them but…'
`Oh yeah. But it's hard. We're continually being excited but with no ethical way of satisfying ourselves.'
'Oh, Dr. Rhinehart, you're married.'
`Married? Oh Yes. That's true. I'd forgotten.'
I looked at her, my face a tragic mask. `But my wife practices yoga and consequently can only engage in sexual
congress with a guru.'
She stared back at me.
`Are you certain?' she asked.
`I can't even do a modified headstand. I have come to doubt that I am a man.'
`Oh no, Dr. Rhinehart.'
`To make matters worse, it has always depressed me that you never seem to be sexually attracted to me.'
Miss Reingold's face went through its psychedelic color show and again ended in typing-paper white. Then she said in
the smallest audible voice I've ever heard `But I am.'
`You . . . you . . .'
`I am sexually attracted to you.'
I paused, all the forces of the residual me mobilizing my body to run for the door; only religious discipline kept me on
`Miss Reingold!' I shouted impulsively. `Will you make me a man?'
I sat erect and leaned toward her.
She stared at me, removed her glasses from her face and placed them on the rug beside the, couch.
`No, no,' she said softly, her eyes focusing vaguely on the couch between us. `I can't'
At first, for the only time in my life not dictated by the die, I was impotent. I had to sit on the bed beside her, nude, in
a modified lotus position, not touching, and for seven or eight minutes meditate with all the powers of a yogi on
Arlene's breasts, Linda Reichman's behind and Lil's innards, until, at last, with the powers properly concentrated, I assumed the cat's cradle position over Miss Reingold's assumed corpse position and lowered myself into samadhi (emptiness).
It is a frightening experience to make love to one's mother, especially one's mother as a corpse, and nowhere near what Freud imagined it. That I looked upon her as a mother image and yet succeeded in assuming the proper positions and fulfilling all the appropriate exercises is a tribute to my budding abilities as a yogi. It was a great step forward in the breaking of psychological barriers, and I trembled all the next day thinking about it. Surprisingly also, I've felt much closer to Miss Reingold ever since.
But not that close.
My friends, it's time for confession. Amusing as I or you may have found some of the events of my early dice-life, I must admit that being the dice man was sometimes hard work. Depressing, lonely and hard. The fact is, I didn't want to go bowling. Or to break up with Arlene for a month. Or play an outfielder for the Detroit Tigers. Or seduce Miss Reingold. Or have sexual intercourse in one sexual position when Lil wanted it in another. Fulfilling these missions of fate was a chore. Fulfilling many others was a chore. Sometimes when the dice sent me rolling randomly to a bowling alley or vetoed my playing Romeo, I felt like the slave you take me to be, yoked to an unsympathetic and unintelligent master, one whose whims were getting increasingly on my nerves. The resistance of my residual self to certain dice decisions never ceased and always dragged at my desire to become the Random Man. I was attempting to permit that one desire, the desire to kill my old self and to learn something new about the nature of man, to dominate the vast majority of the rest of my desires. It was an ascetic, religious struggle.
Sometimes, of course, the dice discovered and permitted the expression of some of my deepest (and previously unrealized) impulses, and as time passed this occurred more and more frequently. But at other times the dice discovered that I hadn't gone bowling for fourteen years because I didn't like to bowl, and I hadn't slept with a fat slob because I was correct in sensing I wouldn't enjoy it. I suppose some suppressed one-thousandth of me may like bowling, clods, slobs and position twenty-three, but my level of perception wasn't able to record it.
And so you, my friends, when you've picked up a pencil and written a list of options and rolled the dice, you may be disappointed. You've gone through the motions a few tunes and then concluded that the dice-life is a fake and I a fraud.
One desire, my friends, one: to kill yourself. You must desire this. You must feel that a voyage of discovery is more important than all the little trips which the normal consumer self wants to buy.
The dice save only the lost. The normal, integrated personality resists variety, change. But the split, compulsive, unhappy neurotic is given release from the prison of- checks and balances. He becomes in a way an `authoritarian personality,' but obeys not God, father, church, dictator or philosopher but his own creative imagination - and the dice. `If the fool would but persist in his folly,' Yossarian once said, `he would become the dice man.'
But it isn't easy; only saints and the insane ever try it. And only the latter make it.
For February the dice ordered me to experiment with the Felloni-Rhinehart sex investigation. Specifically: `Do something new and valuable.'
I squared up the cubes in their little box and spent several days trying to see what. I became depressed.
The limitations in experimenting with human beings were great. You could force them to answer anything, but force them to do nothing. With the other animals, of course, you could ask them nothing and make them do anything. You could castrate them, cut out half their brain, make them walk over hot coals to get their dinner or their mate, deprive them of food, water, sex or society for days or months, give them LSD in such massive dosages that they died of excess ecstasy, cut off their limbs one by one and study mobility and so on. Such experimentation tells us journals full about castrated mice, brainless rats, schizophrenic hamsters, lonely rabbits, ecstatic sloths and legless chimpanzees, but unfortunately nothing about man.
For ethical reason we aren't allowed to ask subjects to do anything which they or their society consider unethical. The problem to which I was devoting my life - how much a human being can be changed - could never be touched by scientists, since the bone ingredient of all men is their resistance to change; and it is unethical to insist that subjects do anything they don't want to do.
I decided to try to change some of the subjects of the Felloni-Rhinehart investigation. Since the research dealt with sexual behavior I would try to change sexual attitudes, proclivities and actions. Unfortunately, I knew that it took two years of analysis to change a homosexual to heterosexual, and that then such change rarely occurred. Could I convert virgins to nymphomania? Masturbators to rakehood? Faithful wives to adulteresses? Seducers to ascetics? Very doubtful. But possible.
To change man, the audience by which he judges himself must be changed. A man is defined by his audience: by the people, institutions, authors, magazines, movie heroes, philosophers by whom he pictures himself being cheered and booed. Major psychological disturbances, `identity crises,' are caused when an individual begins to change the audience for whom he plays: from parents to peers; from peers to the works of Albert Camas; from the Bible to Hugh Hefner. The-change from I-am-he-who-is-a-good-son to I-am-he-who-is-a-goodbuddy constitutes a revolution. On the other hand, if the man's buddies approve fidelity one year and infidelity the next, and the man changes from faithful husband to rake, no revolution has occurred. The class tale remains intact; only the policy on a minor matter has been altered.
In first becoming the dice man, my audience was changed from my peers in psychiatry to Blake, Nietzsche, Lao-Tzu. My goal was to destroy all sense of an audience; to become without values, evaluators, without desires: to be inhuman, all-inclusive. God.
In moving the dice man into sexual research, however, what I aspired to was a piece of ass. Zeus wished to disguise himself as beast and fornicate with a beautiful woman. But my equal desire, as strong as lust, was to become the audience for our subjects. As audience I might be able to create an atmosphere of all-embracing permissiveness, one in which the virgin would feel free to express her latest lech; the queer to express his latent desire for cunt. The dice man had discovered that the experimenting man was permitted almost everything. Could I create an experimental situation for the subjects which would be equally permissive? Such was my hope. Seduction is the art of making normal, desirable, good and rewarding what had previously seemed abnormal, undesirable, evil and unrewarding. Seduction was the art of changing another's audience and hence his personality. I refer, of course, to the classical seduction of the `innocent' and not to the mutual masturbation of promiscuous adults.
Dr. Felloni's dean-of-women dignity and my own rugged, professional look had convinced our subjects that we were the epitome of respectability. They had become more accustomed than the average person to discussing all sorts of outrageous sexuality with strange, non-condemning adults. All of this might ready them, so my thinking went, for any outrageous instructions we might give them.
`Now this afternoon, Mr. F., in the next room is a shy but promiscuous young woman your own age. She has been paid to make love to you. Be a gentleman with her, but insist that she fuck good. At the conclusion of your experience fill out the questionnaire in this sealed envelope. Be as honest as possible with your answers; they will be completely anonymous.'
`Miss F., in the next room is a shy young man your own age named F. Like yourself he is a virgin. He has been told that you are a prostitute hired to teach him the art of love. For this experiment we wish to see how well you can play this role by interacting with him sexually to permit us to collect as much data as possible. If you overcome your inhibitions about nudity and intimate sexual contact with a man you will receive a bonus of one hundred dollars. If you permit him to have sexual intercourse you will receive a bonus of two hundred dollars. For other possible bonuses read pages five and six of the enclosed instruction sheet and questionnaire. You need not fear pregnancy, since the other subject has been medically certified as sterile.'
`Tomorrow afternoon, Mr. J., you are to go to the address printed on this card. You will meet there a man who has been told you are a fellow homosexual. He will attempt to seduce you. You are to encourage him as much as possible, while noting your own feelings and reactions. If he achieves an orgasm you will receive a bonus of one hundred dollars for producing such significant data. If you also achieve orgasm you will receive an additional two-hundred #161;dollar bonus. We are interested in studying the social and sexual intercourse between normal men like yourself and homosexual men.. Within the enclosed…'
Instructions like these came parading through my mind. I might have to hire prostitutes and homosexuals, but in some cases I might have subjects playing both roles. (Two heterosexual men banging away at each other collecting data.) I began to believe that human beings are capable of anything. Our other-directed modern men are so accustomed to looking to the immediate social environment for approval or disapproval that, given the correct experimental leader, tone and situation, I should be able to get the subjects to alter their customary sexual roles.
It seemed a worthy project, worthy of the Marquis de Sade. Consciously, I wanted to confirm my theory of the malleability of man, but I seemed to be taking a rather fiendish non-rational delight in the prospect.
Hectic, hectic, hectic. The life of an experimenter is not easy. To set up mazes, find rats to run them, measure the results and to tabulate everything is hard. To set up sexual encounters, find people to run them, measure the results and believe everything is harder.
Nevertheless, in the next few weeks I completed the complicated task of setting up what was officially named the Rhinehart-Felloni Investigation of Amorality Tolerance, but which has become generally known among New York psychiatrists as `Fuck Without Fear for Fun and Profit,' and in the New York Daily News as `The Columbia Copulation Caper.'
I had some trouble convincing Dr. Felloni of the correctness of our joint venture, but I took her to lunch one day and just kept talking about `test of the stability of behavioral patterns and attitudes under experimental conditions' and `the Leiberwitz-Loom criteria for defining a homosexual,' and `heterosexuality as defined operationally by the maintenance of an erection in the presence of a woman for five or more minutes' and, as my clincher, `the complete quantification of all results.'
She finally agreed and laid great professional stress on the necessity of anonymity for all subjects.
The first two weeks of the experiment were incredibly confusing. Too many of our hired personnel - prostitutes male and female - were failing to show up or, more usually, failing to follow instructions. Women hired to play hard-to-get would bring along a friend and give our subject an orgy. Another woman hired to exhaust a Don Juan type sexually, fell asleep after fifteen minutes and couldn't be roused even by a gentle beating with a belt.
Many of our subjects, after seeming to agree to the experiment, disappeared. I was desperate for subjects, `lab assistants' (our `help' was so designated in our budget and foundation report) and data. I found myself tempted to hire my wife, Arlene, Miss Reingold even, to meet the various appointments. Dr. Felloni reported that she was having the same problem with the group of subjects she was dealing with. The confusion was further compounded by our having to use the same two apartments for all our `experimental sessions.'
I sent Arlene out to play the role of a lonely, prudish, love sick housewife for a sexually hard-up and inhibited college student who had been instructed to play the role of a Henry Miller; she came back exhilarated. She announced that the evening had been a total success, although she admitted that nothing much had happened for the first two hours and that she may not have stuck completely to her assigned role when she walked into the living room nude after taking a shower. She volunteered to assist in any way she could if needed further for the experiment and even agreed not to tell Jake.
Finally I decided that the old coach himself had to get off the bench and into the game. Someone had to get in there who could plug up the holes when they needed to be plugged or burst up the middle of a score. A hush fell over the crowd when I trotted onto the field.
Miss T. was required by the instructions to: `Spend the evening at the apartment of Mr. O., age thirty-five. Man will have paid one hundred dollars to spend the evening with you. Mr. O. is a lonely college professor whose wife died a year ago. He knows nothing about this experiment and believes a friend has provided him with a young, inexperienced call girl. You are to try to give yourself to him as completely as possible. Examine closely your own attitudes and emotions and fill out the questions contained in the enclosed envelope.'
According to her answers on our attitude questionnaires, Miss T. was nineteen years old, had never had sexual intercourse, had `necked heavily' with only two boys, had kissed `less than ten' boys and had never had any conscious lesbian inclinations or experiences. She believed that premarital sexual intercourse was wrong because `God punished it finitely,' it was `psychologically unhealthy' and there was `danger of pregnancy.'
She affirmed that as a positive attribute it procreated the race. According to her she had never masturbated because `God punished it finitely.'
She was vaguely intolerant of all sexual deviations from the heterosexual norm, extremely conventional in most other attitudes and indicated no close relationships with anyone except her mother, to whom she seemed quite close. She reported that she was a believing Catholic and hoped to be a social worker for emotionally disturbed children.
It seemed to me unlikely that Miss T. would even show up. Of the seven other subjects to whom I had given similar instructions (to meet each other or hired help), three had never appeared; and two of the desertees were quiet types like Miss T. The assigned time, was `around eight o'clock.'
I, in a generous act of self-employment arrived at seven-thirty, and, after fixing myself a small drink, was settling down for a long wait when the bell rang. At the door I found a young woman who announced that she was `Terry Tracy.'
It was five of eight.
Terry Tracy looked up at me brightly like a teenager arriving for a baby-sitting assignment. She was short and pert, with wane brown eyes, soft brown hair and a nervous grace which reminded me of Natalie Wood. She was wearing a skirt and loose turtleneck sweater and carrying her homework crooked in her left arm (it turned out to be her sealed manila folder with the questionnaire.) I awkwardly invited her in, feeling like a decrepit and obscenely lecherous old man.
`Can I fix you a drink?' I asked. It occurred to me that this girl might have misunderstood the instructions.
`Yes, please,' she said and, walking into the middle of the room, looked around at the absolutely conventional modern couch, chairs, bureau, bookcase and rugs as if they had been imported from the moon.
`My name is Robert O'Connor. I'm a professor of history at Long Island University.'
`I'm Terry Tracy,' she said brightly, looking at me for all the world as though I were an interesting uncle about to beguile her with sea yarns.
1 tried to meditate with pseudo-serenity upon my drink but felt ridiculous.
`Seen any good movies lately?' I asked.
`Oh no. I don't go to movies very much.'
`They're very expensive these days.'
`Oh yes. And a lot of them are … well . . . not very worthwhile.'
She looked over at the fireplace. I looked at the fireplace. It had a little wood-burning grate that looked as though it
hadn't been used since the apartment had been built ninety years ago.
`Would you like to have a fire?' I asked.
`Oh no. It's warm enough, thank you.'
I sipped at my drink and licked the sweat off part of the outside of the cold glass. It occurred to me that this might be
the most sensuous thing I would do all evening.
`Come over and sit by me, why don't you.'
A hippopotamus eating a daisy.
`I'm very comfortable here, thank you.'
After looking nervously at the fireplace for a few moments she added `All right' Balancing her drink carefully like a
child with her first cup of milk, she came over and seated herself about a foot from me on the couch. She modestly
tugged down once on her miniskirt, which remained, however, a few feet above her knees. She seemed incredibly
small. At six four I was used to looking down at people, but looking down at Terry Tracy to my left all I could see was
her curly brown hair and her two seemingly nude legs.
`Hey,' I said.
She looked up-with a smile, but a certain vagueness seemed to have crept into her eyes, as if her yarn-spinning uncle
had just used the word bordello.
`May I kiss you?' I asked. At a hundred bucks a toss it didn't seem too much to ask.
Her eyes went vaguer and she said, `Oh yes.'
I pulled her little body to me and leaned down to meet her lips. Without premeditation I found myself kissing only
with my lips upon her lips. Her mouth was small, her lips dry. After a few seconds I straightened up.
`You're awfully pretty,' I said.
`Your lips are very nice'
`Yours are too,' she said.
`Now you kiss me.'
She looked up and waited for me to lower my head, but I remained upright and even leaned back against the couch
while still looking down at her, sexily. After a moment's uncertainty, she placed her drink on the coffee table and got up on her knees. Putting her hands on my neck she slowly leaned towards me. My arms circled her, one hand closed hard around a buttock and I pressed my mouth and tongue against hers. For ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty seconds I kept my tongue in her mouth and moved my hands over her back, buttocks and thighs. Her body was small but firm, her little behind round and rubbery through the woolen skirt. Finally I pulled back and looked at her.
She smiled the smile of a straight-A student.
`That was awfully nice,' I said.
`Oh yes. It was good,' she replied.
`Put your tongue in my mouth,' I said, and as I slid sideways to a horizontal position on the couch, I pulled he her over
on top of me. She was remarkably light and her tongue came out of her small mouth in little tentative darts like a snake trying to frighten someone. I bought both my hands up under her skirt and panties and exploring between her legs, got lost. That is, of the two caves traditionally located in the underbrush, I was able to locate only one, and that, in the immortal words of Robert Frost, The one less traveled by.'
Had she been sewn up? I discovered and caressed a slippery crack, but it led not to the warm-cushioned opening of a
Lil or Arlene but to a dead-end: a virgin with a vengeance. She pulled up a few inches away from me.
`Please don't touch me there,' she said.
`I beg your pardon,' I said and delicately withdrew my hands and smoothed down her skirt.
She hesitated, a moment and then brought her little mouth down warmly on mine, her hands framing my face. Her
abdomen pressing down on my extended penis began to create climactic feelings so I broke our kiss and rolled us both
into sitting positions again. She looked up at me brightly, as if pleased by having brought home a good report card. Of
course it may have been the brightness of sexual excitement: certainly my gooey fingers didn't indicate scholarly
interests. Looking at her a bit drunkenly I asked in a husky voice; `Shall we go to the bedroom?'
`Oh no,' she said, `I have to finish my drink.'
Further straightening her skirt, she reached forward and took a healthier swig from her gin and tonic. I rediscovered
my glass on the floor at my feet and finished it off.
`Are you a professor?' she asked.
`Yes I am.'
'Oh yes, you told me. That must be interesting. What history do you like best?'
`I'm a specialist in papal bulls of the Renaissance. Look, can't I get you another drink?'
`Oh really? I loved reading about Cesare Borgia and the Popes. I'd love another drink. Were the Popes really as bad as the books say?'
I walked liquor-ward a trifle aggressively but said over my shoulder: `It all depends on what you mean by bad.'
`I mean have children and all.'
`Alexander I had several children as did Pope John IX, but before they became popes.'
The Church is much purer today.'
I poured her a huge gin, added a trickle of tonic, gave myself a bathtub-glassful of Scotch and marched back toward
`How much college have you finished?' I asked.
`This is my fourth semester at Hunter. I'm majoring in sociology I think. Oh! - Er.'
`What's the matter?'
For a moment I thought I must have spilled her drink as I handed it to her, but it wasn't that. My fly wasn't open. But she looked frightened. `Nothing,' she said and took a deep drink from her gin and tonic. `But. .. how did you … I mean why did you think I
went to college?'
'You seem intelligent,' I said. `You couldn't know all about the Renaissance just from high school.'
She looked away from me at the grimy, unused fireplace and didn't seem to be as cheerful as she had been.
`Doesn't it seem … strange that a college girl should be … here?'
'Ah. Her breach of role playing was bothering her.
`Certainly not,' I said firmly. 'According to my fried, almost all the call girls he knows are college students, many of
them straight 'A' students. Tuition costs being what they are, what can a girl do?'
This line of reasoning seemed to take some time to absorb. She blushed and turned away at the phrase call girl, but finally said quietly that's true.' `Also,' I said, `college girls learn how irrational all sexual inhibitions are. They learn how safe sexual intercourse can
be and how profitable.'
`But she said. `But - of course some girls still fear that God - that sex -'
'You're right there, of course. But even many deeply religious college girls have also become call girls.'
She now looked up at me questioningly.
'They realize,' I went on, `that God always examines the reasons we do anything. If a girl gives her body to a man to
give him pleasure and to earn money so that she may educate herself and thus increase her ability to serve God she is
actually performing a good act.'
She looked away nervously. - `But God says adultery is a sin,' she said.
'Ah, but the Hebrew word for adultery, fornication, actually means sexual intercourse had only for pleasure. The
Commandment actually should be translated: "Though shall not selfishly give yourself in adultery."
Many of the girls at LIU in Bible History 162 have been quite surprised and pleased to realize the true nature of God's
She was hunched over on the couch beside me drinking her gin with absentminded abandonment. She stared into her
glass as if it might hold the ultimate answers.
`But God says that…' she started. `Paul says that . . . the Church says that-'
`Only selfish pleasure. The Hebrew is absolutely explicit. In Second Corinthians, verse eight, the text reads: "She who
lets a man know her for the glory of God is blessed, but woe unto her who in selfishness commits adultery. Verily the
very earth will swallow her up."
Again hesitation. Then:
'The glory of God?' she asked.
`Saint Thomas Aquinas interprets this as meaning any act which is intended to further the individual's ability to glorify
God. He cites the case of Bathsheba's daughter who gave herself to the Aramite that she might convert him. He also cites the prostitute Magdalen of the New Testament who, according to tradition, continued to sell herself to men that she might better know them and testify to the Divinity of Christ.'
`Really?' she said sharply, as if at last Truth were being touched.
`In Dante's Paradisio, which you may have read, the religious prostitutes are placed in the third sphere of heaven, just
below the saints, but above the nuns and virgins. In the words of Beatrice, his guide, "A fugitive and cloistered virtue
can never reach as close to God as an active one. If the soul is pure the body cannot be soiled."
`Oh I read that. Was that Dante?'
`Paradisio, Canto Seventeen I think. Milton paraphrased this verse in his famous essay on divorce.'
`It's funny…' she said and jiggled the remaining ice cubes in her glass before taking another swallow.
`The Church has naturally played down this tradition,' I said, taking a satisfied swallow from my own drink. `It has
felt that young girls might be seduced unnecessarily in their dream of converting men, and although such an act would not be sinful, it was decided to create the impression that all sex was evil. The masses, of course, have thus lived in ignorance of God's true purpose.'
At last she looked up at me and smiled sadly.
`I'm going to take more history,' she said.
I turned to her, and with my right hand brushed away her hair from her cheek.
`I'd love to have a student like you in one of my classes. I get so lonely for someone with whom I can talk about
`I feel spiritually lost, alone - since losing my wife. I've needed the warmth of a woman's mind and body, but until this
evening all I've ever met were dull, pedantic women that weren't able to . . . unselfishly give themselves to me.'
`I like you very much,' she said tentatively.
'Ah Terry, Terry…'
I took her in my arms, spilling the last of her drink onto the floor and couch. I hugged her tenderly, my eyes, well
above the level of her head, fixing idly on the manila folder on the bookcase. The radio was blaring, `Why Don't We
Do It in the Road?'
`Please, my darling,' I said, `come with me now to the bed room.'
She held herself still in my arms and didn't answer. The music stopped, and the radio announcer began running off at
the mouth about the incredible power of Gleem toothpaste: he followed that without pausing for breath with kind
words for Robert Hall's.
`You're so big,' she finally said.
`I have a great need for you.'
She remained still. I released my embrace and looked down at her. She looked up at me nervously and said: `Kiss me
first' She reached her arms up around my neck, and as we kissed I slid heavily forward on top of her. We writhed
together for more than a minute.
`Am I too heavy?' I asked.
`A little bit,' she said.
`Let's go to the bedroom.'
We disentangled and stood up.
`Where to?' she asked, as if we were about to begin a long hike.
This way,' I said, and after we had negotiated the ten paces into the bedroom I added: `That's the bathroom.'
We look at each other. `You undress there. I'll undress here.' `Thank you,' she said and walked into the bathroom, her shoulder just bumping the doorway as she entered. I undressed myself, dropping my clothes neatly in select piles between the bed and an old walnut dresser. Inside the king-size double bed, I but my hand behind my head and watched the ceiling swirl like cosmic nebulae. Five minutes later the nebulae were still providing the only active entertainment.
`Terry?' I called neutrally.
`I can't,' she said from inside the bathroom.
I said loudly.
She came out fully dressed, her eyes red and the lipstick on her lower lip completely chewed away. Standing stiffly
halfway between the bathroom door and the bed she said: `It's been a mistake. I'm not who you think I am.' `Then who are you?'
`I'm - I'm nobody.'
`Oh no, Terry, you're wonderful, whoever you are.'
`I'm - but I can't go to bed with you.'
`Ah Terry,' I said and started to get out of bed when I saw by her facial expression that she might run. Sitting up, I
said: `Well then, who are you?'
'I'm - I was sent here as part of a - an experiment of the Columbia Medical School.'
`No!' I said; flabbergasted.
`Yes. I'm really just a college girl, a pretty innocent college girl, I guess. I wanted to do the experiment the best I
could, but I can't.'
`My God, Terry, that's incredible, that's wonderful. So was I.'
She looked at me blankly.
`So - were - you - what?'
'I was sent here as part of an investigation into the nature of human sexuality conducted by the Columbia Medical
School. I'm Father Forbes of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.'
She stared at my bulky, nude torso.
`I see,' she said.
`The quirks of fate have sent together two innocents!' I raised my eyes to the ceiling briefly; it responded with a swirl.
`I've got to go,' she answered.
`My child, you can't go. Don't you see there is the hand of God in this. Have you ever given yourself to a man?'
`No, Father, and I must go.'
`My child; you must stay. By everything that is holy you must stay.'
I rose with stately dignity from the bed and with a look of great fatherliness and agape; arms outstretched in welcome,
I approached Miss T.
`No,' she said and held up one arm limply.
I never hesitated, but embraced her fully and fatherly, stroking her hair with one hand and her back with the other.
`My sweet child you are my salvation. Had I sinned with a prostitute I would be forever damned; the woman would
have been acting selfishly and I would have been a cause of her sin. But sexual congress with a Catholic girl giving
herself against her will, and thus unselfishly, is to liberate you from sin and me from corruption.'
She stood stiffly and unyielding in my loose embrace. Then, she began crying.
`I don't believe you're a priest, I want to go home.'
She huddled and sobbed against my upper belly.
`In domine Pater incubus dolorarum; et filia spiritu grandus magnum est. Non solere sanctum raro punctilios insularum, noncuninglingus variorum delictim. Habere est cogitare.'
She looked up at me.
`But why are you here?'
`Manes Patri, manes Patri. For you, my child, that we may come together in a love spiritus delicti et corpus boner.'
`You're so strange,' she said.
`This is a sacred moment. Go, and come.'
When she came out of the bathroom a second time two minutes later she was modestly holding a towel against her belly, but exposing two cheerful, round little pink breasts.
I threw back the covers on her side and she hopped in, a ten year-old child hopping into bed with her teddy bears.
Terry Tracy fulfilled her spiritual duties, my friends, with admirable warmth, poise, obedience and skill: Too much skill. When I had difficulty penetrating her at first, I encouraged her to baptize the uncircumcised child with the sacred water of her mouth and this she proceeded to do so devotedly that it was some several minutes before I recalled my central quest. By that time I was too spiritually primed to exert any pressure without the likelihood of my achieving immediate and complete divine grace. She sympathetically consoled me with her hands and then lowered her sacred mouth over the trembling child, bathing it: she spoke in tongues. I was groaning with total incoherence and indignity as one gets during such emotional services when I felt the Holy Spirit ascending. I tried to withdraw the uncircumcised child from the holy temple and whispered `Stop!' but the angel did not cease her ministrations. The nebulae, the child and I all exploded at once in a divine fusion of feeling: I plunged away in her mouth. After ten or fifteen seconds during which I was completely out of the mere world of mortal men, I returned from my spiritual journey.
Her mouth and hands were still warmly engulfing my penis and balls as if nothing had happened. I lay still for another half-minute and then putting a hand on Terry's hand I said 'Terry.'
She raised her head from me for the first time in three or four minutes, but without even turning to me she swung her behind around much nearer me and said Touch me: Oh please touch me.'
When I put my hands between her legs and began to stroke and poke, she pressed back fiercely. This time I slid a finger inside the appropriate and proper opening. Her mouth was trying to swallow a relatively relaxed and thoroughly baptized member. She rolled over and for the first time made a groan. Of sorts: it sounded distinctly like one of disappointment.
I was feeling depressed, guilty, angry and inadequate, but being the dice man playing the professor-priest-customer I merely rolled away from her and told her that it had been delicious.
She didn't say anything. We lay in silence for ten minutes. I was determined to ram home to victory as soon as I could rally my red army back into the peninsula, but for the time being all I could do was lie there and feel inadequate. I didn't even wonder what she was thinking.
`Can you try again?' she said.
We turned toward each other and fell into a passionate half hate embrace, until she clawed at my shoulder to tell me I was squeezing too tight. After a few minutes of love play I lifted her up on to her hands and knees and invited myself to try to enter from the rear. We placed the dragon's head at the mouth of the cave and tried to encourage him to enter.
It was like pushing a dog down the cellar stairs for a bath. We pressed again. A marvelous thing happened: my dragon suddenly sprung past the outside barrier and plunged in a full three-quarter inch. She screamed and fell forward. I began to apologize, but she got immediately back on her knees and was groping back between her legs: a steering committee. After a few more charges, the dragon had disappeared deep into the cave and seemed to be nuzzling contentedly at her stomach. My big hands manipulating her easily at the waist, I felt the present experience was well worth the wait. It was magnificent. The apartment doorbell rang.
For a moment both of us were so intent on the pleasure of my filling her insides that the noise didn't register. When it
did, she raised her head like a deer smelling a rifle and said: `What's that?'
Stupidly: `The doorbell.'
She pulled herself down and away from me and rolled over. She was frightened.
`Who is it?'
Stupidly: `I don't know.'
Then, regaining my superman self: `It must be someone at the wrong apartment'
`No. You'd better go see.'
Standing at the door was a short, thickset young man wearing glasses. He seemed stunned to see me.
`Is this-' he glanced again at the door I was holding slightly ajar. `Is this apartment 4-G?'
Not remembering, I leaned my naked torso out and around to look at what he had just looked at. It was 4-G.
`Yes; it is,' I said helpfully. He stared at me.
`I thought - I was supposed - to meet someone here at nine o'clock.'
I was beginning to understand.
`I guess I'm a little late … Maybe'
'Were you - were you supposed to meet a girl here who -'
`Yes,' he broke in. `I was supposed to meet a girl here.'
He smiled nervously and adjusted his blond-framed glasses. I noticed two pimples on his forehead.
`What's your name?'
I asked, still holding the door ajar.
'Er - Ray Smith.'
His real name as I remembered it was O'Reilly, and he was, according to his answers on the questionnaire, a smooth,
uninhibited young man with women. He was to meet a prostitute, one I had personally hired and instructed to make
him feel as inadequate as possible. He'd arrived ahead of schedule.
'Come in, Ray,' I said and swung open the door. 'My is Ned Petersen. I'm here to make sure Terry - that's our girl's'
name - gives you her money's worth.'
He looked at me - I was naked - and at the absolutely conventional furniture as if he were the first visitor to a Martian
`Terry's already in bed. I was warming her up. You want to give her a ride now?'
`No. No. You go ahead. I'll read a book,' and he stared toward the bookcase.
`Don't be silly,' I said. `She's here for you. I was just tuning her up, breaking her in.'
`But if you . . .' he looked at me conscientiously. There was egg or something near the shoulder of his sweater. Not too
`Tell you what,' I said. `Let's both go in to her. It would be lonely for either of us alone out here.'
`No,' no. You go ahead.'
`Won't do it. Absolutely refuse to leave you alone in the living room. Now come. Come on.'
I took him by the elbow and led him into the bedroom. The bed was empty.
`Yes,' came a highly affected voice from the bathroom.
`A young student of mine is here. Young divinity student. Very lonely young man. Desperately needs companionship.
Can he join us?'
What Ray Smith O'Reilly thought of that I didn't know. From the bathroom came silence.
`Who?' she finally asked.
I walked over close to the door.
`A very lonely young anchorite needs your attention. He has a deep need. He's almost crying. Can he join us in bed?'
`Oh yes,' she answered promptly.
Beside the bed where I had left him, Smith stood like an abandoned bulbless lamp. With great gentleness I helped him
undress and guided him to the location of the bed. He pulled the covers up to his chin like an eighty-year-old preparing for thirty below. Soon Terry, clutching the same towel at the same place, came modestly out of the bathroom. Smith stared at her as at another piece of Martian furniture.
`Terry Thrush, I'd like you to meet George Lovelace. George, this is Terry.'
`Oh, hi,' said Terry; with a bright smile.
`How do you do?' said George Ray Smith O'Reilly Lovelace, `How would you like to fuck her, George?'
I asked, my own penis lifting its head in more than idle curiosity.
`You first,' he blurted.
`Okay, me first, Terry. Give me your ass again.'
Terry looked a little surprised, but quickly hopped into bed beside our young man, and stuck her little behind plumply into the air. Her face on a pillow she turned, smiling brightly at George, whose head lay looking ceiling ward on the other pillow a foot away. George looked sick.
I place my penis; prodded and poked, and, with all deliberate speed, it plunged deep into Terry's warm, wet interior. My God, that was good. Terry had helped aim me with her hands but now as I began easing myself in and out she moved herself on her elbows over to silent George and - undoubtedly smiling brightly to the last - moved her face over his and began giving him her sexy, snakelike kisses.
George lay as rigid as a dried straw, except for his central limb, which was as limp as a wet straw. I pulled Tiny Terry's thighs against me and more or less picked her bodily up and deposited her face on Georgie's belly. Discovering a poor, lonely, unloved cock, she did her duty.
The long and the short of it, Reader - and that is the usual sequence in these affairs - was that I made a splendid splash in Terry's interior and Terry did enough favorable groaning and straining to please everyone, presumably including herself. When she finally let go of old Sir George his limb was just as limp as before. However, as Terry rolled onto her back away from him I saw that the rest of him was at last limp too. Sir George too had seen the Holy Grail.
`Terry has a very nice mouth, don't you think, George?'
'Er, yes, she does,' he said.
`You're exceptionally beautiful in the interior, Terry,' I went on.
'Thank you,' she said. My two young friends were lying on their backs side by side while I had settled back on my knees near the foot of the bed. I was feeling very tired and depressed, and my mood was manifesting itself by my heavy-handed irony.
'Is your ass as warm and juicy as your cunt, Terry?'
`I don't know,' she said and she giggled.
`Live and learn, or in the immortal words of Leonardo da Vinci: "Anus delictoris ante uturusi sec."
Tell me, George do you feel now that someone loves you, that life does have a meaning after all?'
`I - beg pardon?'
`I was telling Miss Truss that you came here tonight very unhappy and lonely and unloved. Has she given you the
spiritual nourishment which you needed?'
'A little bit, I guess.'
`Hear that, Terry, only a little bit. George must really be depressed. Don't you realize, George, that Terry kissed you
and caressed you without your even asking? She gave herself unrequested and unselfishly for your pleasure and
enlightenment. Now what do you say?'
His face contorted nervously; he looked at me. Finally he said: `Thank you, I guess.'
`You're welcome,' said Terry. `I like to help people.'
'Terry is unusually helpful, wouldn't you say, Ray?'
`Yes, she is.'
`Let's all have a drink. Scotch for you, Mr. Lovelace?'
`Yes, thank you.'
As I plodded off nude to the liquor cabinet, I found myself for the first time wondering about the reliability of our questionnaires. Little Miss T., the inhibited Catholic virgin, had showed all the juiciness and technique of a forty #161;three-year old nymphomaniac. And lover-boy O'Reilly … Well, back to the old data sheets.
After we'd finished our drinks, during which we had several sporadic conversations on (a) the weather (we need snow),
(b) Renaissance history (Rabelais was actually a serious thinker), and (c) religion (it's frequently misunderstood), I said firmly to George: `Your turn now, Lovelace.'
`Oh yes, thank you.'
Terry lay on her back to receive him, and after several youthful giggles, he seemed to enter the promised land. The doorbell rang.
For a moment I wondered if there weren't some electronic device deep in Miss Tracy's womb which triggered the apartment bell. It seemed unlikely, but…
I located a bathrobe this time, told the little ones to carry on without me and marched stoically to the door. There, as I leaned my slightly debauched face around the edge of the door, stood Dr. Felloni. We exchanged stares in total disbelief for five full seconds. Then she blushed so fully that I can only describe it by saying that her head, which was of course nodding vigorously, had a climax. She turned and ran down the hall. The next day her secretary phoned to say that she was attending a conference in Zurich and would be away for two weeks.
My experience with Terry Tracy and the results of the Columbia Copulation Caper in general were a revelation to me. After Dr. Felloni had left the apartment door that night and taken a taxi across the Atlantic to Zurich, I had returned to the bedroom to find Tracy and George moiling in the bed and as oblivious of my presence as they had apparently been of my absence. I stood there watching the sheet which covered George's behind rising and falling in regular rhythm and as the sheet shuddered I had something like a Religious Revelation. Other people also were capable of playing artificially imposed roles - and therefore dice-dictated roles. If Terry had in fact been even somewhat virginal, she was this evening demonstrating a remarkable ability to open herself to new experience. If she were in fact a nymphomaniac, she had earlier demonstrated a shyness and inhibition in marvelous contrast to her natural open-door policy. And George Lovelace seemed to be a good learner too; from clod to copulator in thirty minutes.
As I stood there I began to feel that I had only been playing at the dice man. It had been a jeu d'esprit of which I was proud but nothing more: a maladjusted man's way of epater les bourgeois without the bourgeoisie knowing about it. But had I innocently discovered gunpowder and then used it for firecrackers, when a larger man would have used it for explosives? Or a magnifying glass which I was using to create pleasant images but which might be used to see something new? Shouldn't I try to turn other people into dice men? If Arlene enjoyed housewife-with-a-lech for a day and Terry call-girl-for-a-day, might not each enjoy other roles the dice might fling her way, as I had? Shouldn't I be using dice games as dice therapy for my friends and patients? My dice life had become almost a joke; at that instant it seemed a mission - a quest I might pursue to lift my fellow men to new heights. I had cast the dice as a bitter game I'd played against the world; now I would cast them to build New Selves, Random Men. Boredom would be wiped out with the vaccine of the dice, like polio. I would create a New World, a better world, a Place of Joy and Variety and Spontaneity. I would become the Father of a new Race. Dicepeople.
'Could you please get us a towel?' Terry asked, most of her face and body hidden by the sheet and George's ample bulk. Even this rude interruption did not destroy my elevation. During these glorious minutes I was taking myself totally seriously. I went to the bathroom and got them a towel and after a giggle or two they lay together silently, again oblivious of my presence. As the sheet lay limp and still over their silent forms I tiptoed to the spot where my trousers were deposited on the floor and extricated from the pocket my dice.
`Odd,' I would begin dice therapy, with George and Terry tonight; 'even,' I would not. Confidently I flipped a die onto the foot of the bed: a six. Ummmm. Like the good fairy who his left a dime under the pillow, I picked up my clothes and stole away into the night, the immortal words of Christ echoing in my ears 'Physician, help yourself: thus you help your patients too. Let this be his best help that he may behold with his eyes the man who heals himself.'
I was determined to rip from my body the undistinguished clothes of Dr. Lucius Rhinehart and stand forth before my patients naked and revealed: The Dice Man.
The first adult human being to be introduced into the dicelife by Dr. Rhinehart was Arlene Ecstein, inconspicuous wife of Dr. Jacob Ecstein, noted analyst and writer. Mrs. Ecstein had been complaining for several years of various nervous ailments which she attributed to sexual frustration caused by the sporadic nature of her husband's attentions. Dr. Ecstein, who didn't have time, finally decided in mid January that she would enter analysis so that her problem might be treated in depth. With her husband's encouragement (`Give it to her, Luke, baby') she began analysis with Dr. Rhinehart. The first few sessions had been penetrating and Mrs. Ecstein found herself able to open up more frequently than before. Her husband noted that her nervous symptoms declined or disappeared and that her compulsive sexuality seemed relieved.
It was after a little over six weeks of this treatment (three times a week) that Dr. Rhinehart, following his Religious Revelation during the Rhinehart-Felloni Study of Amorality Tolerance, determined to begin dice therapy. He began with the quiet dignity which so marked this whole stage of his life.
`Don't take off your bra, Arlene, I want to talk to you about something important' `Can't it wait?'
He took out two new silver dice, fresh from the factories of Taxco, Mexico, and placed them on his desk. He requested Mrs. Ecstein to seat herself in front of the desk.
`What is it, Lukie?'
'Those are dice.'
`We are going to begin dice therapy.'
Dr. Rhinehart explained with great clarity the practice and theory of casting dice to determine action. Mrs. Ecstein listened with close attention although she squirmed frequently on her chair. When it was clear that he had finished, she remained silent awhile and then heaved a deep sigh.
`But I still don't see why,' she said. `You say I might let the dice decide whether we fuck this morning or not. I think
that's silly. I want to fuck. You want to fuck. Why bring the dice into it?'
'Because many small parts of you don't want to fuck. A small part of you wants to hit me, or wants to run back to
Jake, or wants to talk to me about psychoanalysis. But these parts of you are never allowed to live. You suppress them because most of you just wants to fuck.' `If they're small parts of me, let them stay small.' Dr. Rhinehart tipped back in his chair and sighed. He took out a pipe
and began filling it. He took one of the silver dice and shook it in one hand and dropped it on his desk. He frowned.
'I'm going to tell you how a God was born: the birth of the Dice Man.'
Dr. Rhinehart then narrated the story, slightly edited, of his discovery of the dice and his initial rape of Mrs. Ecstein.
He concluded "had I not given a small part of myself a chance to be chosen by the die we wouldn't be sitting here
`You only gave it one chance in six?'
'Yes. The point is that I gave a minority self a chance to be heard.'
'Only one chance in six?'
`We can never be full human beings until we develop all important aspects of ourselves.'
`Only one-sixth of you wanted me?'
'Arlene, that was an historical accident. We're talking theory. Don't you see how yielding to the dice opens whole new
areas of life?'
`I feel used.'
`If I seduced you out of cold-blooded lust you would feel pleased. Because I let chance intervene you feel used.'
'Don't you feel anything strongly enough so that you don't want to use the dice?'
`Of course, but I try to overcome it.'
Dr. Rhinehart and Mrs. Ecstein looked at each other for a full minute, Dr. Rhinehart smiling self-consciously and Mrs.
Ecstein looked awed. At last she pronounced judgment.
`You're insane,' she said.
`Absolutely. Look, I'll show you how it works. I write down two, say three options. A one or a two means we'll
continue his conversation, a three or a four means we'll end the hour right now and each let the dice decide something
else for us to do for the next forty minutes. A five and . .'
`And a five or a six means we'll fuck.'
`All right, yes.'
Dr. Rhinehart handed a die to Mrs. Ecstein and after shaking it vigorously in both hands for a few seconds she asked,
`Shouldn't I be mumbling some mumbo-jumbo as I do this?'
`You may say simply: "Not my will, Die, but Thy will be done.,, '
'Fuck us up good; Die,' she said and dropped it on the desk. It was a five.
`I don't feel like fucking anymore,' she said, but when she saw the frown on Dr. Rhinehart's face she smiled and felt
she was beginning to see the merits of a dicelife. But before she could begin to let the large part of herself go to work,
Dr. Rhinehart spoke.
`We may now toss the dice to determine how we will make love.'
`What?' she said.
`There are innumerable ways to engage in sexual congress; parts of us are attracted to each of these ways. We must let
the dice decide.'
`First of all, which of us shall be the sexual aggressor, I or you? If the dice say odd '
`Wait a minute. I'm beginning to understand this game. I want to play too.'
Mrs. Ecstein picked up both dice and said `A one means we'll make love that funny way you seem to like.'
`A two means I'll lie down and you use your hands, mouth, and Johnny Appleseed over every part of my body until I
can't stand it and demand something else. A three-'
`Or rather we flip the die again.'
`A three …-let's see: you play with my breasts for five minutes.'
Mrs. Ecstein hesitated and then a slow smile began to brighten her face.
`We must always let the dice decide, huh?' she asked.
'But we control the options.'
She was smiling happily as if she were a child who has just learned how to read.
`If the die is a four or a five or a six it means we have to try to make a baby.'
`Ahh,' said Dr. Rhinehart.
`I've removed that rubber sort of plug Jake had a doctor put in me and I think I've just ovulated. I read a book and it's
told me the two best positions to make a baby.'
`I see. Arlene, I-'
`Shall I toss?'
`Just a minute.'
`I - I'm thinking.'
`Hand me the die.'
`I believe that you have loaded the odds a bit,' said Dr. Rhinehart with his accustomed professional coolness. `Let's say
if it's a six we'll try one sexual position after another as determined from a list of six we will give it. Two minutes on
each. Let the orgasms come where they may.'
`But the four and five still mean we make a baby?'
`Okay. Do I flip?'
Mrs. Ecstein dropped the die. It read four.
`Ahh,' said Dr. Rhinehart.
`Yippee,' said Mrs. Ecstein.
`Precisely what are these two medically recommended fucks?' Dr. Rhinehart asked a trifle irritably.
`I'll show you. And whoever has the most orgasms wins.'
`I don't know. Wins a free pair of dice.'
`Why didn't we begin this therapy a long time ago?' Mrs. Ecstein asked. She was rapidly undressing.
`You understand,' the doctor said, slowly preparing himself for the operation, `that after we have made love once, we
must consult the die again.'
`Sure, sure, come here,' said Mrs. Ecstein and she was soon hard at work with Dr. Rhinehart in concentrated dice therapy. At 11 A.M. Dr. Rhinehart buzzed his secretary to announce that because he was probing particularly deeply that morning and because his work might bear long-range fruit, it would be necessary to cancel the hour with Mr. Jenkins so that he and Mrs. Ecstein might continue.
At noon, Mrs. Ecstein, glowing, left the doctor's office. The history of dice therapy had begun.
Professor Orville Boggles of Yale tried it; Arlene Ecstein found it productive; Terry Tracy rediscovered God through it; patient Joseph Spezio of QSH thought it was a plot to drive him insane: dice therapy slowly but surely, and unbeknownst to my wife and colleagues, grew; but the Great Columbia Copulation Caper climaxed and was spent.
Two Bernard College girls who had been instructed separately to enter into Lesbian relations with each other complained to their dean of women, who promptly began investigating. Although I assured her that Dr. Felloni and I were bona fide professionals, members of the American Medical Association, registered Republicans and in only moderato opposition to the war is Vietnam, she still fund the experiment to be `suspiciously outrageous' and I ended it.
Actually all our scheduled appointments had already been completed. Less than sixty percent had taken place as set up, and two graduate students and I were busy for weeks afterward flying to collect the manila folders with the completed questionnaires and trying to interview our lab assistants; but the experiment was finished. When I published an article on our work in the fall (Dr. Felloni. declined to be associated with the article or the experiment), it created a mild stir and was one of the pieces of evidence used by my enemies to have me exiled from the AMA.
Although most of our subjects seem to have derived pleasure from their participation in the study, a few were traumatized. About ten days after my own pas de trots my office received a request that I treat one of Dr. Felloni's subjects in our joint experiment. This Miss Vigliota maintained that she had become neurotic because of her participation in our experiment and she was requesting therapy. The appointment was set up and the next day I was seated in my office at the scheduled hour elaborating in writing upon new dice exercises I had been creating. My office door opened and closed, a small girl entered, and when I looked at her, she staggered forward and collapsed on the couch.
It was Terry `Tracy' Vigliota. It took me twenty minutes to assure her that I was really Dr. Rhinehart, a psychiatrist, and that nay participation with her in the experiment had been a perfectly natural extension of my data-gathering role. When she had become calm, she told me why she had come requesting therapy. She sat on the edge of the couch with her short legs dangling many inches from the floor. Dressed in a conservative grayish suit with short skirt, she seemed, as she discussed her problems, more slight, nervous and intense than she had less than two weeks before. I noticed as she talked and in subsequent sessions that she found it difficult to look at me and always entered or left the office with her soft brown eyes on the floor, as if absorbed in thought.
Terry had apparently undergone an identity crisis as a result of her unusual evening with me and George. Her conversation with the professor of history and with Father Fortes had given her new insights into her Catholic faith, but her sexual experience had not been related, she began to think, to the `greater glory of God.'
She found herself increasingly indifferent to the glory of God and increasingly interested in men. But lust and sex were evil, or so her whole previous life had told her. But Father Fortes had indicated that the Church enjoyed sex. But Father Fortes had turned out to be a psychiatrist, a scientist, a doctor; but they also enjoyed sex. She had felt fulfilled in relieving the loneliness of George X, but after Father Fortes had left it seems George permitted her to relieve his loneliness one more time and then began berating her as a whore and a slut. She found as a result of all this that she could no longer believe in anything. All of her desires and beliefs had been shattered by the emotions of her experimental evening: nothing new was taking its place. All seemed unreliable and meaningless.
Although anxious to begin dice therapy with her, I had to let her pour out her troubles uninterrupted over the first two analytic hours. In the third session - she was still sitting, her legs dangling, staring at the floor - she finally ran out of misery and began repeating that most human of refrains: `I don't know what to do.'
`You keep coming back to the same basic feeling,' I said. 'That all of your desires and beliefs are illusory and meaningless.'
`Yes. I asked for therapy because I can't stand the feeling of emptiness. After that evening I didn't know who I was. When I got you as my therapist last week I thought I must be going insane. Even my emptiness seemed empty.'
She smiled a sad, soft Natalie Wood smile, her eyes-down.
`What if you're right?' I said.
`What if your feeling that all desires are unreliable and all beliefs illusions is right, is the mature, valid vision of reality,
and the rest of men are living under illusions which your experience has permitted you to shed?'
`Of course, that's what I think,' she said.
`Then why not act upon your belief?'
The smile left her face and she frowned, still not looking at, me.
`What do you mean?'
`Treat all of your desires as if they had equal value and each of your beliefs as if it were as much an illusion as the
`Stop trying to create a pattern, a personality; just do whatever you feel like.'
`But I don't feel like doing anything; that's the trouble.'
'That's because you're letting one desire, the desire to believe strongly and be a clearly defined person, inhibit the rest
of your various desires.'
'Maybe, but I don't see how I can change it.'
`Become a dice person.'
She lifted her head and looked up into my eyes slowly and without emotion.
`Become a dice person,' I repeated.'
`What do you mean?'
`I,' I leaned forward with appropriate gravity, `am the Dice Man.'
She smiled slightly and looked away and to the side.
`I don't know what you're talking about.'
`You believe that each of your desires is as arbitrary, meaningless and trivial as the next?'
`In some sense it makes absolutely no difference what you do or don't do?'
'That's exactly it.'
`Then why not let the flip of dice - chance - decide what you do?'
She looked up again.
Is that why you keep changing roles and acting so strangely?'
'You let . . . chance . . , a pair of dice decide your life?'
`Within limits, yes.'
'How do you do it?'
For the first time her eyes brightened. Legs dangling, she listened intently as I explained briefly my option-creating,
dice deciding life.
`My God,' she said when I had finished. She stared some more. `That's wonderful.'
She paused. `First you were a professor of history; then Father Forbes, then a lover, a pander, a psychiatrist, and now
you're - the dice man.'
My face was aglow with triumph.
'Actually,' I said, `I work for "Candid Camera."
Terry paled: it took two minutes for me to reassure her that I'd been joking. When she'd recovered or seemed to have
recovered, she smiled her soft smile, looked up at me, grinned and then began giggling. She giggled for about two
more minutes and stopped. She took a handkerchief from a pocket in her suit jacket and wiped away the tears. Biting
at her lower lip but trying to look me in the eye, she said quietly: `I think I might like to try to be a - dice woman.'
`It will be good for you,' I said.
`It can't be any worse.'
`That's the spirit.'
As a matter of fact Terry and I got nowhere at first. She was too apathetic and skeptical to obey dice decisions except
in the most perfunctory way. Her apathy led her to create unimaginative options, or, when I pressed her to be more
daring, to disobey the die.
It was almost two weeks later that we finally had a session, which led to her breakthrough into belief in the dicelife.
She was the one who got to the core of the problem `I … I'm having trouble … believing. I have to have … faith, but I
She trailed off.
`I know,' I said slowly. `The dice-life is related to having faith, to religion, to genuine religion.'
There was a silence.
`Yes, Father,' she said, and gave me a rare smile.
I smiled back at her and continued `A healthy skepticism is an essential ingredient of genuine religion.'
'Yes, Father,' she said, still smiling.
I leaned back is my chair. `Maybe I ought to preach to you.'
I flipped a die onto the desk between us. It said yes to the lecture. I frowned.
`I'm listening,' she said as I continued my pause.
`This may sound Father Forbesish, but who am I to question the will of the Die?'
I stared at her and we both looked solemn. `Christ's message is clear: you must lose yourself to save yourself. You
must give up personal, worldly desires, become poor in spirit. By surrendering your personal will to the whim of the
die you are practicing precisely that self-abnegation prescribed in the scriptures.'
She looked at me blankly as if listening but not understanding.
`Do you see,' I went on, `that the only selfless action is one not dictated by the self?'
`I can see that following the dice might be selfless, but I thought the Church wanted us to overcome sinfulness on our
I tipped forward and stretched forth an arm to take one of Terry's little hands in my own. I felt - and naturally looked
totally sincere in what I was saying.
`Listen carefully, Terry. What I'm about to say contains the wisdom of the world's great religions. If a man overcomes
what he calls sinfulness by his own willpower, he increases his ego-pride, which, according to even the Bible, is the
very foundation stone of sin. Only when sin is overcome by some external forces does the man realize his own
insignificance; only then is pride eliminated. As long as you strive as an individual self for the good, you will either
have failure - and an accompanying guilt - or pride, which is simply the basic form of evil. Guilt or pride: those are the
gifts of self. The only salvation lies in having faith.'
`But faith in what?' she asked.
`Faith in God,' I answered.
She looked puzzled.
`But what happened to the dice?' she asked.
`Look. I'm going to read a passage to you from a sacred book. Listen carefully.'
I reached into my desk and brought out some notes I'd been making lately in connection with my evolving dice theory
and, after browsing a half-minute to find what I was looking for, I began reading. ` "Verily it is not a blasphemy when I teach: Over all things stand the heaven Accident, the heaven innocence, the heaven Prankishness, the heaven Chance. And Chance is the most ancient Divinity of the world, and behold, I come to deliver all things from their bondage under Purpose and to restore on the throne to reign over all things the heaven Chance. The mind is in bondage to Purpose and Will, but I shall free it to Divine Accident and Prankishness when I teach that in all, one thing is impossible: reason. A little wisdom is possible indeed, just enough to confuse things nicely, but this blessed certainty I have found in every atom, molecule, substance, plant, creature or star: they would
rather dance on the feet of Chance.
`Oh heaven over me pure and high! Now that I have learned that there is no purposeful eternal spider and no spider
web of reason, you have become for me a dance floor for divine accidents; you have become a divine table for divine
dice and dice players. But my listeners blush? Do I speak the unspeakable? Do I blaspheme, wishing to bless you?"
I ended my reading and after checking to see if there might be more related material I looked up.
`I didn't recognize it,' Terry said.
`It's Zarathustra. But did you understand it?'
`I don't know. I liked it. I liked something about it very much. But I don't - I don't see why I should have faith in the
dice. I guess that's the trouble.'
`Not a sparrow falls to the ground that God does not see.'
`Can a single die fall to the table unseen by God?'
`No, I guess not.'
`Do you remember the great ending to the Book of Job? God speaks from the whirlwind and asks Job how he can
presume to question the ways of God. For three long, beautiful chapters God indicts man's abysmal ignorance and
impotence. He says things like: "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? . . ."
Or "Who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth from the womb?"
And "have you commanded the morning since your days began?"
"Have the gates of death been revealed to you?"
On and on God rubs it in to poor Job, but stylishly - in the most beautiful poetry in the world - and Job realizes that he
has been wrong in complaining and questioning. His last words to the Lord are "I know that thou canst do all things,
and that no purpose of thine can be thwarted . . .
Therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
I paused, and Terry and I looked silently at each other for several moments.
`God can do all things,' I went on. `No purpose of His can ever be thwarted. Never.'
`Yes,' she replied. .
`We must despise ourselves and lose ourselves if we are to be saved.'
`God sees the tiniest sparrow fall.'
`The tiniest die tumble upon the table.'
'He will always know what options you have given to the Die.'
`Terry, the reason you must have faith in the Die is simple.'
`The Die is God.'
`The Die is God,' she said.
I was sitting at a board meeting of Queensborough State Hospital one Wednesday evening that spring, when the idea of Centers for Experiments in Total Random Environments came to me. Fifteen old men, all doctors, Ph.D's and millionaires, were seated around a huge, rectangular table discussing plumbing expansion, salary scales, medication charts and rights-of-way, while the patients in the square mile around us settled ever more comfortably into their various defined stupors. In the middle of doing a doodle of a multi-armed, multi-legged, multi-headed Shivt, whammo! It hit me; a Dice Center, an institution to convert people into random men. I suddenly saw a short-term total environment of such overwhelming impact that the principles and practices of the dicelife would be infused after a few weeks to the same degree that they had in me after many, many months. I saw a society of dicepeople. I saw a new world.
"Old man Cobblestone, our tall, dignified chairman, was speaking with great deliberation about the intricacies of Queensborough law regarding rights of appropriation; six pipes, three cigars and five cigarettes were giving the green-walled room a milky, underwater effect; a young doctor (forty-six) beside me had been wiggling his foot in the same motion for forty minutes without pause. Pens lay dormant by paper except for mine: the sole doodler. Yawns were smothered into coughs or hidden behind pipes. Cobblestone gave way to Dr. Wink on the inefficiency of bureaucratic systems in dealing with plumbing problems and suddenly, leaping at me from the seven arms, six legs and three heads of Shiva, was the idea of the Dice Center.
I took my green die from my vest pocket and gave it a fifty fifty chance that I would create such an institute. It said `yes.'
I stifled a scream. Whatever sound emerged slowed but did not stop the wiggling foot beside me. Four heads turned minutely toward me then back respectfully to Dr. Wink. I was ablaze with my idea. I cast the die a second time on the doodle pad.
`Gentlemen!' I said loudly and I shoved back my chair and stood. I towered over Dr. Wink, who stood just opposite me staring at me openmouthed. The others all turned to me respectfully foot-wiggler wiggled on.
I said again, groping for the right words. `Another sewer will only permit us to handle the shit better; it won't solve anything.'
`That's true,' a voice said encouragingly and several heads nodded.
`If we are to fulfill our duties as trustees we must have a vision of an institution which will change our patients and send them into the world as free men.'
I was speaking slowly and pompously and I earned two nods and a yawn.
`As Ezra Pound wrote in a late poem, a mental hospital is a total institution: it engulfs each patient with a consistency of rule, habit and attitude which effectively isolates him from the more unpredictable problems of life in the outside world. A patient can adjust successfully to hospital life because he can count on its limiting its horrors to certain predictable patterns. The outside world holds no such hope for him. He is thus often able to adjust to hospital life and yet be frightened foot less by the thought of having to leave. We have effectively prepared our patients to live-adequately in the mental hospital and no place else.'
`Is this to the point?' old Cobblestone asked from his seat at the head of the table.
`Oh it is, sir. It is,' I said a bit more quickly. Then with dignity: `I have a dream. A vision: we want to prepare our patients to fulfill themselves happily in all environments, to free the individual from the need to lock himself away from challenge and change. We-'
'This … but, Dr. Rhinehart,' Dr. Wink stammered uncertainly.
`We want to create a world of adult children without fear. We want the multiplicity built into each one of us by our anarchic and contradictory society to break free. We want people to greet each other on the street and not know who is who are not care. We want freedom from individual identity. Freedom from security and stability and coherence. We want a community of creators, a monastery for joy-filled madmen.'
`What are you talking about?' Old man Cobblestone said firmly. He was standing.
`For Christ's sake, Luke, sit down,' Dr. Mann said. Heads turned to each other and then back to me.
`Oh we've been fools! Fools!' I slammed my fist down on million years we've believed that -the choice lies only between control and discipline on the one hand and letting go on the other: we don't realize that both are equally methods of sustaining consistent-habit, attitude and personality. The Goddam personality!' I grit my teeth and shuddered. `We need disciplined anarchy, controlled letting go, queen for a day, Russian roulette, veto, eeny-meeny #161;miney-moe: a new way of life, a new world, a community of dice men.'
I made my appeal directly to old Cobblestone, and he didn't even blink.
`What are you talking about?' he asked again more gently.
`I'm talking about converting QSH into a Center in which patients will be systematically taught to play games with life, to act out all of their fantasies, to be dishonest and enjoy it, to lie and pretend and feel hate and rage and love and compassion as determined by the whim of the dice. I'm talking about creating an institution where the doctors periodically pretend to be patients, for days, for weeks, where the patients pretend to be doctors and give therapy sessions, where the attendants and nurses play the roles of patients and visitors and doctors and TV repairmen, where the whole fucking institution is one great stage upon which all walk free.'
`I rule you are out of order, Dr. Rhinehart. Please sit down.'
Dr. Cobblestone stood erect at the end of the table and his face was neutral as he spoke these words. As the heads all swung back to me there was a total silence. When I spoke it was almost to myself.
The great Goddam machine society has made us all into hamsters. We don't see the worlds within us waiting to be born. Actors only able to play one role: whoever heard of such nonsense. We must create random men, dicepeople. The world needs dicepeople. The world shall have dicepeople.'
Someone had a firm grip on one of my arms and was pulling at me to come away from the table. About half the other doctors seemed to be standing now and jabbering to each other. I resisted the tug and raised my right arm with clenched fist and boomed out to old Cobblestone: `One more thing!' A fearful silence followed. All stared at me. I lowered my clenched fist and released the green die onto the doodle pad in front of me: a five.
`All right,' I said. `I'll leave.'
I picked up the die, replaced it in my vest pocket and left. I learned later that an entirely new sewage disposal system was rejected by unanimous vote and a system of temporary stop-gap repairs initiated to the satisfaction of no one.
As the normal, healthy, neurotic reader knows, one of the chief delights of life is daydreaming. After careful study of my own fantasies and those of hundreds of dice students met in dice therapy, I have noted that our dreams at any moment act as a block or a boost to our playing different roles. Moreover, I have discovered that about every four years from childhood until death the average man changes the goals of his daydreams and that these changes evolve in a remarkably predictable pattern. Since all the dreams are in a way related to power, I am modestly suggesting that the phenomena be called the Rhinehart Power Pattern for Men.
Daydreams begin sometime in the child's first decade, usually around the age of eight or nine. At this age the boy inevitably projects himself in terms of raw power. Frequently he is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and can leap buildings at a single bound. He becomes the Ghenghis Khan of the fourth grade, the Attila the Hun of the local shopping center, the General George Patton of Cub Scout Local 216. His parents are being tortured to death in a horribly creative way: for example, over some tremendous fire at the end of sharpened spears they are being fried as marshmallows. Sometimes the child arrives in time to save his parents; sometimes, in fact most times, he arrives just too late and, after demolishing the villains, concentrates his imagination on himself marching in the middle of a giant state funeral procession bathed in tears. The procession is attacked by the enemy and he leaps with his sword . . .
By the age of thirteen the scene has usually shifted to Yankee Stadium, where the boy, playing for the hopeless Yankees, with the bases loaded, two outs and his team trailing by three runs in the last half of the ninth inning in the seventh game of the World Series, manages to stroke a 495-foot drive off the highest part of the fence in right center field and, with a fantastic flash around the bases and an impossible headfirst slide, just touches home plate with the extended uncut fingernail of his left pinky. In December, late in the fourth quarter and his team trailing by five points he runs back an intercepted pass 109 yards, carrying fourteen men over the goal line on his back, eleven opposition players, one incompetent referee and two fans who are already trying to congratulate him. In the spring, with two seconds left to win the game he sinks a one handed jump shot from the foul line, his own foul line.
In the world of sports, girls are absent, but by the age of sixteen or seventeen the stroke of a baseball has been replaced by other strokes, and the only ones intercepting passes are female. The boy has become a man, and the man is commander-in-chief of a harem. Here things go on beyond the wildest imagination of anyone - except that of the boy doing the dreaming. A woman, panting helplessly, flings her nude body onto the hero, who, puffing nonchalantly on a Corsican cigarette and tastefully sipping a glass of rare New York State wine, and steering his Aston-Martin at 165 miles-per hour down a rarely used road in the Alps, manages to give the girl the most exciting love experience of her life. If a male at the age of seventeen is sometimes once again Attila the Hun it is in order to round up the conquered Roman women and, twirling his sword and his mustache, choose fifteen or sixteen to spend the night with him. If he once again scores the winning touchdown, it is in order to walk dramatically into the senior prom, limping badly and trailing blood along the floor behind him like a leaky oil truck, and watch the women melt into gooey syrup at the sight of him.
But by the age of twenty-one our male is either engaged, married or sated; the world he wants to rule is a new world he has become Horatio Alger. With grim determination and uncanny acuity he invests fifty-six dollars in the stock market and after buying and selling with cool nonchalance over a period of six months, finally sells out, pocketing a cool $4,862,927.33. When the board of General Motors is panicked by the threat of disarmament he calmly presents his invention of an inexpensive jet sportscar built in the shape of a Polaris missile and getting fifty miles per gallon of jet fuel. In three weeks he is on the covers of Time, Fortune and Success! But in the next few years he is earning a modest salary as second clerk at Pierce, Perkins and Poof and is upset at the injustice and hypocrisy that exist in the world: a world in which some men are athletic stars, James Bonds and millionaires and he is not; he is morally appalled. In his dreams he recreates the world, righting all wrongs, eliminating suffering, redistributing wealth, redistributing women, ending all wars. He becomes a reincarnation of Mahatma Buddha. Jesus Christ and Hugh Hefner. Evil governments topple, corrupt churches collapse, laws are revised, and Truth, written in Xeroxed tablets of stone by our hero, is presented to the world. Every one is happy.
Except our hero, whose income continues to be modest. At the age of twenty-five he has reached the first apex of the Rhinehart Power Pattern for Men: the dream of reforming the world. By the age of twenty-eight or nine regression has begun. His wife is reminding him that the world is still unreformed and that other men are earning … et cetera. He returns to his dreams of success. Only now they are more modest, more limited. Now he rules only Pierce, Perkins and Poof and not General Motors. Now his coup on the stock market is only a thousand dollars, not four million. Middle age, like rigor mortis, has set in.
The regression continues: in three or four years he reassumes his position as managing director of a harem, but it isn't what it used to be. It is populated with secretaries, receptionists and, on particularly good days, a famous movie star. Jane Fonda, while protest picketing at Pierce, Perkins and Poof, takes one glance at him and drags him off to a commune where - but it doesn't seem quite real, so he returns to the conquering of the little telephone operator Maggie Blemish.
At the age of thirty-seven he suddenly resigns from Pierce, Perkins and Poof to join the New York Football Giants. The prospect of running 109 yards or dragging fourteen men on his back no longer seems as jolly as it did at the age of thirteen, so he joins the Giants as head coach. Although his team has finished dead last for six consecutive seasons and still has the same incompetent men, our male introduces a new spread formation with three running quarterbacks separated by thirty yards and a center who can hike the ball to any one of them, and the Giants, running new quadruple reverses off fake-draw quick kicks, all season, win fourteen straight. He takes over as head coach of the New York Hockey Rangers at midseason and, thanks to a revolutionary introduction of six men into the forward line - but the pattern is familiar.
At the age of forty-one it is complete; the male, resigning his six head-coach-ships, once again dreams of conquering the world. The accumulated bitterness of the years asserts itself, he becomes as fast as a speeding bullet, as powerful as a locomotive and can leap buildings with three powerful strides. He becomes a General Curtis LeMay and bombs China back into the Stone Age. He becomes a Spiro Agnew and puts the blacks and hippies and liberals firmly in then places. His wife and children are being tortured to death in some horribly creative way: over a fire at the end of sharpened sticks they are being roasted as marshmallows. Sometimes he arrives in time to save his children, sometimes even his wife. But most times he arrives just too late. The giant state funeral procession in which, in tears, he is marching is attacked by the enemy, and leaping back into action with his tactical nuclear weapons . . .
The Rhinehart Power Pattern for Men should now be clear. In Dice Therapy we can predict with great precision the roles which a male student will most want to play by examining his age and relating it to our pattern. There exist variations, of course, some men mature late, and others, a few, are precocious. Eric Cannon, for example, at only nineteen, was saving the world, and I at the age of only thirty-five, am again, as at age eight, in the process of destroying it…
I had only one session with Eric Cannon to try to introduce him to dice therapy, because he and his father had reached some kind of agreement whereby Eric was to be released three days later. He was naturally keyed up about leaving and didn't listen carefully as I began a Socratic dialogue to get him into dice therapy. Unfortunately, the Socratic method entails a second person at least willing to grunt periodically and since Eric remained absolutely mute I gave up and told him in a twenty-minute lecture what a dicelife was all about. He became quite alert. When I'd finished he shook his head from side to side slowly.
`How do you stay loose, Doc?' he asked. `How do you keep yourself on that side of the desk?'
`What do you mean?'
`How come they don't lock you up?'
`I am a professional man,' I answered.
`A professional loony. Giving psychotherapy.'
He shook his head again. `Poor Dad. He thought I was being cured.'
`The concept of the dicelife doesn't fascinate you?'
`Of course it does. You've turned yourself into a sort of computer like our air force use in Vietnam. Only instead of
trying to kill the maximum number of the enemy, you program yourself to drop your bombs at random.'
`You miss the point. Since there is no real enemy, all of life's wars are games, and the dicelife permits a variety of war games instead of the continual sluggish trench warfare of the typical life.' "`There is no enemy,"' he quoted quietly, looking at the floor in front of him. ` "There is no enemy." If there's one
thing that makes me want to puke more than anything else it's people who think there is no enemy. Your dicelife is a hundred times as sick as my father even. He's blind, so he's got an excuse, but you! "No enemy! "' And Eric writhed in his chair, his face distorted with tension. He twisted his muscular body upward until he was standing, his neck still rolling tensely, his eyes on the ceiling. Clenching his fists he finally held himself reasonably quiet.
`You big fool,' he said. `This world is a madhouse with killers loose, torturers, sick depraved sadists running churches,
corporations, countries. It could be different, could be better, and you sit on your lump of fat and toss dice.'
I didn't say anything since I was not in the mood for a wrestling match and was, as I listened, for some reason feeling
`You know this hospital is a farce, but tragic suffering - a tragic farce. You know there are nuts running this place #161;nuts! - not even counting you! - that makes most inmates look like Ozzie and Marriat and David and Ricky. You know what American racism is. You know what the war in Vietnam is. And you toss dice! You toss dice!' He banged both fists down on the desk before me two, three, four times, his long hair falling forward at each blow like a black mantilla. Then he stopped.
`I'm leaving, Doc,' he said to me calmly. `I'm going out into the world and try to make it better. You can stay here and
drop your random bombs.'
`Just a minute, Eric.'
I stood up. `Before you go-'
`I'm leaving. Thanks for the pot, thanks for the silences, thanks even for the games, but don't say another word about
tossing your fucking dice, or I'll kill you.'
`Eric. . I'm . . . You're…' He left.
Dr. Rhinehart should have known when Mr. Mann summoned him to his office at QSH that there was trouble. And
seeing old Cobblestone erect and solemn as he entered made Dr. Rhinehart certain there was trouble. Dr. Cobblestone
is tall and thin and gray-haired, and Dr. Mann is short and plump and balding, but their facial expressions were
identical: stern, firm, severe. Being called to a director's office at QSH reminded Rhinehart of being summoned to the
principal's office at age eight for winning money off sixth graders at craps. His problems hadn't changed much.
`What's this about dice, young man?' Dr. Cobblestone asked sharply, leaning forward in his chair and banging once
noisily on the floor the cane he held upright between his legs. He was the senior director of the hospital.
`Dice?' asked Dr. Rhinehart, a puzzled expression on his face. He was wearing blue jeans, a white T-shirt and
sneakers, a dice decision which had made Dr. Mann pale when he had entered the office. Dr. Cobblestone had not
seemed to notice.
`I think we ought to take things in the order you suggested earlier,' Dr. Mann said to his co-director.
`Ah yes. Yes, indeed: Dr. Cobblestone banged his cane again as if it were some accepted signal for the restarting of a
game. `What's this we've heard about your using prostitutes and homosexuals in your sex research?'
Dr. Rhinehart didn't answer immediately but looked intently from one stern face to another. He said quietly: `The
research will be detailed in our report. Is there anything wrong?'
`Dr. Felloni says she has withdrawn entirely from the project,' said Dr. Mann.
'Ahh. She's back from Zurich?'
'She states she withdraw because subjects were being asked to commit immoral acts,' said Dr. Cobblestone.
`The subjects of the experiment was sexual change.'
`Were the subjects asked to commit immoral acts?' Dr. Cobblestone continued.
`The instructions made it clear that they didn't have to do anything they didn't want to.'
`Dr. Felloni reports that the project encouraged young people to fornicate,' said Dr. Mann neutrally.
`She should know. She helped me draw up the instructions.'
`Does the project encourage young people to fornicate?' asked Dr. Cobblestone.
`And old people t- Look, I think perhaps you ought to ask to have a copy of my research report when it's finished.'
The two stern faces had not relaxed, and Dr. Cobblestone went on `One of your subjects claims that he was raped.'
`That's true,' replied Dr. Rhinehart. `But our investigation indicated that he either fantasized or prevaricated the rape to
suppress his active unconscious participation in the act of which he complains.'
`What's that?' said Dr. Cobblestone, irritably cupping an ear at Dr. Rhinehart.
`He enjoyed being laid and is lying about the rape.'
`Oh. Thank you.'
`You realize, Luke,' said Dr. Mann, `that in letting you use some of our patients here at QSH for your research that we are legally and morally responsible for what occurs in that research.'
`Certain attendants and nurses have reported that a large number of patients were volunteering for your sex research
project and have claimed that prostitutes were being supplied to the patients.'
`You can read my report when it's done.'
Dr. Cobblestone banged his cane a third time.
`A report has reached us that you yourself participated in . . . as . . . as . . . in this experiment.'
`Naturally?' asked Dr. Mann.
`I participated in the experiment'
'But our report stated that…' Dr. Cobblestone's face grew red with his exasperation at not finding the right words. `…
that you interacted with the subjects . . sexually.'
'Ahh,' said Dr. Rhinehart.
`Well?' asked Dr. Mann.
`Some neurotic young person I presume is the author of this slander?' said Dr. Rhinehart.
`Yes, yes,' said Dr. Cobblestone quickly.
`Projecting his latent desires onto the dreaded authority figure?' Dr. Rhinehart went on.
`Precisely,' said Dr. Cobblestone, relaxing just a bit.
`Tragic. Is someone trying to help him?'
`Yes,' replied Dr. Cobblestone. `Yes. Dr. Vener has . . . How did you know it was a young man?'
'George Lovelace Ray O'Reilly. Projection, compensation, displacement, anal-cathexis.'
`Is there anything else?' said Dr. Rhinehart, making motions of rising to leave.
`I'm afraid there is, Luke,' said Dr. Mann.
Dr. Cobblestone gripped his cane carefully in both hands and, aiming, banged it a fourth time on the floor between his
`What's this about dice, young man?' he asked.
'One of your patients has complained that you're making him play some strange game with dice.'
`The new one, Mr. Spezio?'
`We have patients working with clay, cloth, paper, wood, leather, beads, cardboard, lathes, wire … I saw no reason not
to let a few select patients begin playing with dice.'
`I see,' said Dr. Cobblestone.'
`Why?' asked Dr. Mann blandly.
`You can read my report when it's done.'
No one spoke for a while.
`Anything else?' Dr. Rhinehart asked at last.
The two older men glanced uneasily at each other and Dr. Cobblestone cleared his throat.
`Your general behavior lately, Luke,' said Dr. Mann.
'Your impolite and … unusual behavior in our last board meeting,' said Dr. Cobblestone.
`Your erratic, socially upsetting eccentricities,' said Dr. Mann.
`Your interruption of Dr. Wink,' added Dr. Cobblestone.
`We've received complaints from a few nurses here at QSH, several board members naturally, from Mr. Spezio, and…'
`And?' suggested Dr. Rhinehart.
`And I myself am not blind.'
`Batman over the telephone is not my idea of a joke.'
There was a silence.
`Your behavior has been undignified and unprofessional,' said Dr. Cobblestone.
`You can read my report when it's done,' said Dr. Rhinehart finally.
`Your report?' asked Dr. Cobblestone.
`I'm writing an article on the variety of human response to socially eccentric behavior.'
`Yes, yes, I see,' said Dr. Cobblestone.
`My hypothesis is-'
`No more, Luke,' said Dr. Mann.
`No more. You've just about convinced everyone, but Jake that you're splitting apart. He alone has faith'
`My hypothesis is-'
'No more. Your friends have protected you all they're going to. Either back into the old Luke Rhinehart or you're finished as a psychiatrist' Dr. Cobblestone arose solemnly.
`And if you wish to bring up your idea for some sort of new center to help our patients you must have it placed on the agenda before our meeting.'
`I understand,' said Dr. Rhinehart, also standing.
`No, more, Luke,' said Dr. Mann.
Dr. Rhinehart understood.
I should have known when Lil sat me down on the armchair opposite her without even touching her champagne that there was trouble. As part of a one-in-six die decision I had been courting her anew with all the unselfish and romantic love I could imagine, and we'd been having a marvelous week. I'd climaxed four days of traditional courting (two plays, a concert, an evening of love on hashish) by suggesting that we end Love Lil Week by taking a three-day skiing holiday at a Canadian ski resort. I had bought her flowers at the airport and champagne for our first night. It had begun snowing thickly after we arrived and although the next day we both skied like untrained walruses, we soon made an art out of tumbling. The snow fell lightly and wetly in the afternoon and we removed our skis and made snowballs and wrestled and rolled and munched the snow more or less like a couple of aged dogs reliving their puppyhood, I a Saint Bernard and she a collie. She was pretty and bright-eyed and girlishly athletic, and I was handsome and affectionate and boyishly uncoordinated, and we enjoyed playing together again. We danced before a roaring fire and drank more champagne and played brilliant bridge against a couple from Boston and made sweet love under a foot-high mountain of blankets and slept the sleep of the just.
We did the same the next day and the next, and on our last evening, a little high on champagne and marijuana, we spent half an hour holding hands in front of the fire and another ten minutes sitting on our bed with the lights off staring out our window at the moonlight lighting in pale blue the slopes of snow which stretched away from the hotel. I'd opened yet another bottle of champagne and felt warm and complete and serene. The touch of Lil's hand seemed holy. But then Lil asked me to sit opposite her in the armchair and shook her head when I tried to hand her a glass of champagne, and I knew there was trouble.
After turning on the bedside lamp. I looked up at her and was surprised to see tears in her eyes. She reached forward and took one of my hands and drew it to her face. Her lips touched my fingers delicately and she looked into my eyes. She smiled, slightly, lovingly, but with a tear running down one side of her face.
`Luke,' she said, and she paused for several seconds looking into my eyes. `What have you been acting so strangely for
so long now?'
'Ah Lil,' I began, `I'd like to tell you . . .' and I stopped.
`I know you aren't really unbalanced,' she went on. `It's some . . theory you're working on, isn't it?'
The warmth I'd been feeling froze, the lover solidified to stone. Sitting mute, hand being held, was a wary dice man.
`Please tell me,' she said. She was wetting her lips and squeezing my hand.
`Luke, we're together again. I feel so whole, so full of love for you, yet . . . I know that tomorrow, the next day, you
may change again. Everything that has made these last few days so sweet will disappear. And I don't know why: And I
won't know why.'
Maybe Lil could become the Dice Woman. It sounded like the name of a villainess on the Batman show but it offered me at the moment the only rationalization I could find for betraying the secret of my life and permitting me to hold Lil's happiness and love. I wavered. The band downstairs was playing a waltz. It wasn't too modern a ski resort..
`I…' I started. The dice man still fought.
`Tell me,' she said.
`I've been experimenting, Lil,' I began for a third time, `with practicing eccentric behavior, unusual roles, attitudes,
emotions - in order to discover the variety of human nature.'
I paused: wide-eyed she waited for what I was going to say. Narrow-eyed, so did I. I reached to my side and turned off the light again. Our faces, separated by only three feet, were still quite visible in the moonlight. `I didn't want to tell you until . . . I had learned whether the experiment had value: you might have rejected me, fought
the experiment, ended our love.'
`Oh no I wouldn't.'
`I knew a moment would come when I could tell you everything. Last week I decided to end the experiment for a
while so we could be together again.'
Her grip on my hand was frightening.
`I would have gone along,' she said. `I would have, sweetheart. Those asses think you're losing your mind. I would
have laughed at them if I knew. [Pause] Why? You should have told me.'
`I know that now. I knew that as soon as I freed myself 'from the experiment: I should have done it all with you. 'But..
Still staring, her eyes glittering in the moonlight, she seemed nervous, uncertain, curious. `What were the kind … kinds
I was so pale and stonelike in the moonlight I imagine I looked like an abandoned statue.
`Oh, going to places I'd never seen before, pretending to be someone different from myself to see people's reactions.
Experimenting with food, fasting, drugs, even getting drunk that time was a conscious experiment.'
And she smiled, tears wetting her cheeks and chin, like a child in the rain.
`It proved that when I'm drunk I act like other people that are drunk.'
`Oh Luke, why didn't you tell me?'
'The mad scientist in me insisted that if I revealed to you that I was experimenting, your reaction would be
experimentally useless and a wealth of evidence would be missing.'
`And . . . and the experiment is . . . over?'
'No,' I answered. `No, Lil, it isn't. But now we'll begin . . . experimenting together, and the loneliness we've both felt
`What is it, honey?'
'Will our life like the last few days end too?'
A roar of laughter came from the assembled guests downstairs. `Sounds like they're having a good time,' I said.
`Will this end?' she asked again softly.
`Of course it will, honey,' I said, trying to dare look at her. `It would end whether I returned to experimenting or not,
you know that. The good things we've felt these last few days have come because they follow such hell. One doesn't
have to be a scientist to know that bliss doesn't last.'
She came forward heavily into my arms, sobbing.
`I want it to last. I want it to last,' she said.
I stroked her, kissed her, mumbled sweet nothings, felt numbly that I was handling the situation horribly, felt terrible.
A part of me imagined drawing Lit into even more radical dice deals than I could manage alone; perhaps I'd even
change her. Another part of me felt utterly abandoned by everyone.
She down-shifted from sobs to sniffles, then left me to trot to the bathroom. When she returned to her same spot on
the bed with her face and hair tidied up, I was surprised to see that she was looking at me coldly.
`Have you kept a written record of these experiments?' she asked.
`Of some. And I've written brief essays of analysis of various hypotheses I've been testing.'
`Have you experimented with me?'
`Of course I have, honey. Since it's me I experiment with, and me lives with you, you've been affected by many of the
`I mean have you directly experimented. .. tried to get me to do things?'
`I . .. no, no, I haven't' `Have you experimented with sex? With other women?'
Bingo! I hesitated.
My male friends, attention. There are some questions which demand any answer except hesitation. `Do you love me?' for example, is not a question; it is intended as a stimulus in the stimulus-response sequence `Do-you-love-me?-Oh #161;my precious yes.'
`Did you sleep with her?' demands a yes-or-no answer immediately: hedging implies guilt. `Have you experimented with other women?' demanded an immediate answer of `Yes, of course, honey, and it's made me closer to you than ever.'
This would bring tears, slaps, revilings, withdrawal and eventually, curiosity and reconciliation. Hesitation on 'the other
hand . . .
Hesitation brought Lil leaping to her feet.
`You Goddamn bastard,' she said.
`Don't touch me: `You don't even know what the experiments were.'
`I know your mind. I know . . . oh my God . . . I know … Arlene! You and Arlene!' She was rigid and trembling.
`Honey, honey, honey, you're blowing up about nothing. My experiments didn't include infidelity `I'll bet they didn't.
I'm no fool. I'm no fool,' she shouted and, sobbing, crumpled on to the couch.
`Oh. I'm such a fool,' she moaned, `such a fool.'
I went over and tried to comfort her. She ignored me. After another minute's crying she got up and went into the
bathroom. When I followed about two minutes later the door was hooked closed.
Now remember, my friends, I was still supposed to be playing the lover. For seven days I had been the lover, at one
with the role; now I was only artificially trying to go through the proper motions and emotions. The love was dead, but
the lover was commanded to live on.
I knocked and called and finally received a `Go away'; unoriginal but, I fear, sincere. My impulse was to do just that,
but my mind warned me that real lovers never leave their beloved in such cases except to blow out their brains or to
get drunk. Considering the alternatives I threw my shoulder against the door twice and broke in.
Lil was sitting on the edge of the tub with a pair of scissors in her hand; she looked up at me dully when I stumbled in.
A quick scrutiny indicated she had not slashed anything.
`What are you doing?' I asked.
`I thought I'd mend your pants, if you don't mind.'
Beside her, prosaically enough, was, in fact, some thread and the pants I'd ripped down the backside on the slopes that
`Mend my pants?'
`You have your experiments and I have … [she almost started crying again] my art projects. Pants and .. . I'm being
pathetic and maudlin.'
She placed the pants on the rim of the tub and turned on the water in the sink and began scrubbing her face. When
she'd finished, she brushed her teeth. I stood in the doorway, trying to marshal my creative faculties to tell a talc tale.
'Lil, an hour ago we had something which we can and will have again. But you've got to know all about my
She looked up at me foaming at the mouth, toothbrush in hand.
'I'll listen to it all, Luke, to every scientific word but not now. Just not now.'
`You may not want to listen, but I must tell you. This hour is too important, our love is too-'
`Important to let a night go by with this rock between us.'
`I'm going to bed,' she said as she left the bathroom and began to undress.
`Then go, but listen.'
She threw off her clothes on to her dresser, got into a nightgown and went to bed. She pulled the covers up so that only the top of her head was showing and turned her back to me. I began lumbering back and forth at the foot of the bed. I was trying to prepare a speech. I wanted to document my series of harmless; faithful-husband experiments but was floundering in the sea of harmful, faithless-husband facts. I didn't know what to do.
I knew door-slamming only postponed the ultimate confrontation and further soothing necessitated my saying something, an act I wished to avoid for a decade or two. Moreover, modest spiritual caresses would leave her free to continue thinking, and thinking, when you are guilty of something (and what man dare cast the first stone?), is dangerous sad must be stopped. Such soothing would also encourage her to consider herself the guiltless sad abused party, a truth best left unconsidered.
I paced like a starving rat back and forth at the foot of the bed, staring at the food I wanted (Lil) and at the electric grid which would make the eating painful (Lil). Irritably I threw back the covers. Her nightgown was twisted tightly around her and pulled almost to the knees. My blood, seeing that delicious, plump, helpless rear, sent representatives racing with the news to the capillaries of my penis.
I retrieved the scissors from the floor and with stealth and delicacy snipped the heavier material at the neck of her nightgown and with a swift yank tore it from top to bottom. Lil twisted upwards screaming and clawing.
The further details, while perhaps of anthropological value, would read something like the dry documentation of some invasion of a Japanese Pacific island during the Second World War: circling movements; advance of right thigh to position `V'; repulse of fingernail attack on left flank; main artillery piece to attack position; main artillery piece forced to withdraw when caught in classic pincers movement by two enemy ranks, etc.
Forced carnal knowledge, whatever else it may be, is good physical exercise and represents meaningful variation on normal marital relations. As pleasure, however, it has its Limitations. For myself, I was so distracted that night by scratches, bites and screams, and by wondering whether one could be arrested for violating one's wife (was pinching a felony or a misdemeanor?), that I must warn male readers that although desirable as tactic, as pleasure might better employ a quiet night alone with pornography.
The next morning my ears, neck, shoulders and back looked as if I'd spent the night wrestling with thirty-three kittens in a briar patch crisscrossed with barbed wire during a hailstorm. I was bloody and Lil was unbowed. But though she was cold and distant, she listened to my long, scientific report during the bus ride and plane flight back to New York and although she seemed unimpressed with my claims of innocence with Arlene, a part of her believed the rest. I told her nothing about my use of the dice, keeping it all a matter of some vague, temporary psychological testing having to do with responses to eccentric patterns. How much of her believed me isn't clear, but her majority self announced unequivocally that if I did not cease my experiments - whatever they might be - and cease them forthwith, she and the children would leave me forever.
`No, more, Luke,' she said as I left for work the first day back in Manhattan. `No more. From now on you're normal,
eccentric, boring Dr. Rhinehart, or I'm done.'
`Yes, dear,' I said (the die had fallen a two), and left.
Dr. Rhinehart should have known when Mrs. Ecstein summoned him to her living room couch that Wednesday that
there was trouble. They hadn't met in her apartment since she had begun therapy with him. After letting him in she
seated herself sedately on the couch, folded her hands and looked the floor. Her mannish gray suit, her glasses and her
hair tied back severely in a bun, made her look strikingly like a door-to-door purveyor of Baptist religious tracts.
`I'm going to have a baby,' she said quietly.
Dr. Rhinehart sat down at the opposite end of the couch, leaned back and mechanically crossed his legs. He looked
blankly at the wall opposite him, on which hung an ancient lithograph of Queen Victoria.
`I'm happy for you, Arlene,' he said.
'This is now the second straight month I've missed my period.'
`I asked the Die what I should name it and gave it thirty-six options and the Die named it Edgar.'
They sat there quietly not looking at each other.
`I gave ten chances to Lucius but the dice chose Edgar.'
`What if it's a girl?'
Dr. Rhinehart asked after a while.
`Edgarina: `Edgarina Ecstein.'
`Are you happy about it, Arlene?'
`It hasn't been decided yet who the father is,' Mrs. Ecstein said.
`You don't know who the father is?' asked Dr. Rhinehart, sitting up.
`Oh I know,' she said and turned smiling to Dr. Rhinehart.
`I'm happy for you, Arlene,' he said and collapsed slowly back in a heap against the couch, his blank eyes swiveling
automatically to the blank wall opposite, on which hung only the ancient lithograph of Queen Victoria. Smiling.
`But, I haven't let the dice decide who I should say is the father.'
`I thought I'd give you two chances out of three of being the father.'
`Jake, of course, will get one chance in six.'
`And I thought I'd let "someone you don't know" have one chance in six.'
`The dice will decide then who you tell Jake is the father?'
'What about abortion? You're only in the second month, did you let the dice consider abortion?'
`Of, of course,' she said again smiling. `I gave abortion one chance in two hundred and sixteen.'
`The dice said no.'
`So in seven months you're going to have a baby.'
`Yes I am. Isn't it wonderful?'
'I'm happy for you,' said Dr. Rhinehart.
`And after I find out who the father is I'll have to let the dice decide whether I should leave Jake to be true to the
`And then let the dice decide whether I'm to have more children.'
`Um, 'But before that they'll have to tell me whether I should tell Lil I'm having a baby.'
`And whether I should tell Lil who the father is.'
`It's all so wonderfully exciting.'
Dr. Rhinehart took from his suit-jacket pocket a die and after rubbing it between his hands dropped it on the couch between himself and Mrs. Ecstein. It was a two. Dr. Rhinehart sighed.
`I'm happy for you, Arlene,' he said and collapsed slowly back in a heap against the couch, his blank eyes swiveling automatically to the blank wall opposite, on which hung only the ancient lithograph of Queen Victoria. Smiling.
Unfortunately for normal old Luke Rhinehart and his friends and admirers, the dice kept rolling and rolling, June turned out to be National Role-Playing Month and a bit too much. I was ordered to consult the Die regularly about varying the person I was from hour to hour, or day to day or week to week. I was expected to expand my role playing, perhaps even to test the limits of the malleability of the human soul.
Could there exist a Totally Random Man? Could a single human so develop his capabilities that he might vary his soul from hour to hour at whim? Might a man be an infinitely multiple personality? Or rather, like the universe according to some theorists, a steadily expanding multiple personality, one only to be contracted at death? And then, even then, who knows? At dawn of the second day I gave the dice six optional persons, one of whom I would try to be during the whole day. I was trying to create only simple, non socially upsetting options. The six were: Molly Bloom, Sigmund Freud, Henry Miller, Jake Ecstein, a child of seven and the old pre-diceman Dr. Lucius Rhinehart.
The dice first chose Freud, but by the end of the day I had come to feel that being Sigmund Freud must have been something of a bore. I was aware of many unconscious sources of motivation where I usually overlooked them, but having seen them I didn't feel I had gained too much. I tried to examine my unconscious resistances to being Freud and uncovered the sort of thing Jake was good at in analysis: rivalry with the Father, fear of unconscious aggression being revealed: but I didn't find my insights convincing, or rather I didn't find them relevant. I might have an `oral personality' but this knowledge didn't help me change myself as much as did a single flip of the die.
On the other hand, when I read of a man who killed himself by slashing his wrists I immediately noted the sexual symbolism of the cutting of the limbs. I began thinking of other modes of suicide: throwing oneself into the sea; putting a pistol in one's mouth and pulling the trigger; crawling into an oven and turning on the gas; throwing oneself under a train All seemed to have obvious sexual symbolism and be necessarily connected with the psychosexual development of the patient. I created the excellent aphorism: Tell me the manner in which a patient commits suicide and I'll tell you how he can be cured.
The next day I scratched Freud from my list, replaced him with a `slightly psychotic, aggressively anti-Establishment hippie' and cast a die: it chose Jake Ecstein.
Jake I could do very well. He was a real part of me and his superficial mannerisms and speech patterns I could easily imitate. I wrote half an article for the Journal of Abnormal Psychology analyzing the dice man concept from an orthodox Jakeian point of view and felt marvelous. During my analytic hour with Jake I entered so completely into his way of thinking that at the end he announced that we had covered more ground in this one session than in our previous two and a half months together. In a later article he wrote about my analysis `The Case of the Six-Sided Man' - (Jake's reputation will be eternal on the basis of his titles alone), he discussed this analytical hour in detail and attributes its success to the accidental discovery of a rarely read article by Ferenczi which he stumbled upon the night before lying open to a key page under his bathroom sink and which gave him the key `which began to unlock the door to the six-sided cube.'
He was ecstatic.
The dice rolled on and rolled me from role to roll to role in a schizophrenic kaleidoscope of dramatic play. Life became like a series of bit parts in a bad movie, with no script, no director, and with actresses and actors who didn't know their lines or their roles. I did most of my role playing away from people who knew me, for reasons which are obvious.
I can remember only vaguely what I did and said in those days; images are clearer than dialogues: I as Oboko the Zen master sitting mostly mute and smiling while a young graduate student tries to question me about psychoanalysis and the meaning of life: I as a child of seven riding a bicycle through Central Park, staring at the ducks in the pond, sitting cross legged to watch an old Negro fishing, buying bubble gum and ballooning out a big one, racing another cyclist on my bike and crashing and scratching my knee and crying, much to the bewilderment of the passersby: 240-pound crybabies being a rarity.
Despite all my efforts to limit my expanding personalities to strangers and to maintain a certain amount of normality ground my friends and colleagues, I always gave the Die at least an outside chance to undo me, and the Die, being God, couldn't long resist.
Once upon a time Dr. Rhinehart dreamt he was a bumblebee, a bumblebee buzzing and flitting around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't believe he was Dr. Rhinehart. Suddenly he felt that he had awakened, and he was old Luke Rhinehart lying in bed beside the beautiful woman Lil. But he didn't know if he was Dr. Rhinehart who had dreamt he was playing the role of a bumblebee, or a bumblebee dreaming he was Dr. Rhinehart. He didn't know, and his head was buzzing. After several minutes he shrugged: `Perhaps I'm actually Hubert Humphrey dreaming I'm a bumblebee dreaming of being Dr. Rhinehart.'
He paused for several more seconds and then rolled over and snuggled up to his wife.
`In any case,' he said to himself, `in this dream of being Dr. Rhinehart I'm glad I'm in bed with a woman and not a bumblebee.'
Dr. Abraham Krum, the German-American researcher, had in just five years astounded the psychiatric world with three complex sets of experiments, each of which proved something unique. He began by being the first man in world history able experimentally to induce psychosis in chickens, a creature previously considered of too low intelligence to achieve psychosis. Secondly, he .had managed to isolate the chemical agent (moratycemate) which caused or was associated with the psychosis, thus being the first man to prove conclusively that chemical change could be isolated as a crucial variable in the psychosis of chickens. Thirdly, he discovered an antidote (amoratycemate) which completely cured ninety-three percent of the chickens of their psychosis in just three days of treatment, thus becoming the first man in world history to cure a psychosis exclusively by chemical means.
There was considerable speculation about the Nobel Prize. His current work on schizophrenia in pigeons was followed, like stock market reports by large numbers of people in the psychiatric world. The drug amoratycemate was being experimentally administered to psychotic patients at several mental hospitals in Germany and the United States with interesting results. (Side effects involving blood clots and colitis had not yet been conclusively confirmed, nor had they been eliminated.) Dr. Krum was to be the guest of honor at a party given by Dr. Mann for his friends and certain luminaries of the New York psychiatric world. It was to be a major occasion, with the president of PANY (Dr. Joseph Weinburger), the director of the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene and two or three other extremely big deals whom I can never remember. The dice, imps of the perverse, ordered that I vary my person every ten minutes or so throughout the evening among six roles: a gentle Jesus, an honest dice man, an uninhibited sex maniac, a mute moron, a bullshit artist and a Leftist agitator.
I had created the options under the influence of marijuana, which I had smoked for half an hour as the result of an option created under the influence of alcohol, which I had drunk because the dice - ad infinitum. My dicelife was getting out of control and the party for Dr. Krum was the climax. Dr. Mann's apartment manages to resemble both a funeral home and a museum. His servant, Mr. Thornton, a cadaver, opened the door that evening with all the warmth of a mechanical skeleton, removed Lil's coat, ignored her plunging neckline, said, `Good evening, Dr. Rhinehart,' as if Dr. Mann had just died, and led us down the hall - filled with portraits of famous psychiatrists - and into the living room.
Whenever I entered the room I was always surprised to find living people there. Jake was against a wall of bookcases in one corner talking with Miss Reingold (there to take notes for Jake), Professor Boggles (there because my dice had said to invite him and his dice had said to accept) and a couple of other, men, presumably world-famous psychiatrists. On an immense oriental couch in front of a Victorian fireplace sat Arlene, Dr. Felloni (who nodded her head rapidly at my appearance) and an elderly woman, presumably somebody's mother. Arlene was dressed as briefly as Lil and with a slightly more spectacular effect: her two luscious breasts made it look as if lovely white balloons had been stuffed into her dress from above but threatened to float out at any moment. In easy chairs opposite the couch were an elderly, retired big deal I vaguely knew, a chubby woman, presumably 'somebody's wife and a small man with a tiny pointed beard, slump-shouldered yet intense: the Dr. Krum I knew from photographs.
Dr. Mann greeted us wineglass in hand, his face slightly flushed with glory, worry and booze, and led us toward the women and Dr. Krum. I shook the tiny die in a specially built watchcase in my pocket, eased it out and glanced at the result to discover which of the six roles I was now to play for ten minutes or so.
`Dr. Krum, I'd like you to meet a former student and colleague of mine, Dr. Lucius Rhinehart,' said Dr. Mann. `Luke, this is Dr. Krum.'
`Dr. Rhinehart, a pleasure, a pleasure. Your work I have not read but Dr. Mann says highly of you.'
Dr. Krum shook hands with short emphatic stabs and bared his teeth in an exaggerated grimace as he looked confidently up into my face, looming nearly a foot above him.
`Dr. Krum, I'm speechless. I never hoped to meet a man who'd done such work in my own lifetime. I'm deeply, deeply honored.'
`It's nothing, nothing. In a few years, then I will show you my dear, delighted, delighted.'
He bowed slightly to, Lil and clicked his heels as he shook her hand with two quick pumps. He looked up at her and then at me with a pleased, flushed face.
`Such lovely ladies this evening, lovely ladies. I regret verking with chickens.'
`Dr. Krum, your loss is the world's gain.'
As I said this, Lil glanced briefly at me, raised her eyes ceiling-ward and turned to talk to Jake, who had edged to the outskirts of our group. Arlene was sunk into the couch smiling up at me and I smiled broadly back at her.
`You're terrific, Arlene, you really are. You look sexier every time I see you.'
She flushed prettily.
`Who are you tonight?' she asked nonchalantly, sitting up a bit straighter and inflating her balloons.
`Just terrific, Arlene, you really are. I don't understand, Dr. Krum, these women, why they try to distract us when we
want to talk about your work.'
Dr. Krum, an elderly has-been named Latterly and I were all looking with dazed grins at Arlene until I turned to Dr.
Krum and said: `Your ability to isolate variables amazes me.'
`My verk, my verk.'
He turned to me, shrugged his shoulders and stroked his tiny beard. 'I'm verking now with pigeons.'
`The whole world knows,' I said.
`Knows what?' asked Jake, joining us with a Scotch for me and some purple something for Dr. Krum.
`Dr. Krum, I trust you know my colleague, Dr. Ecstein.'
`Of course, of course, the accidental breakthrough. Ve met.'
`Jake is probably the finest theoretical analyst practicing in the United States today.'
`Yoah,' said Jake without expression. `What were you talking about?'
`Dr. Krum has moved to pigeons and the whole world knows.'
`Oh yeah. How's it going, Krum?'
`Good, good. We haven't induced schizophrenia complete yet, but the pigeons are nervous.'
He laughed again, a quick ratatat-tat hehheh-heh.
`Have you tried injecting 'em with that chicken stuff - that psychotic stuff - you discovered?' Jake asked.
`Oh no. No. It has no effect on pigeons.'
`What methods of inducing schizophrenia in your subjects have you tried after the failure of your cubical maze?'
`Presently ve teach homing pigeons to find home. Then ve move pigeon long vay avay and move the home. Pigeon
gets very vorried.'
`What problems have you encountered?'
`Ve lose pigeons.'
Jake laughed, but when I glanced at him he cut it short and squinted nervously at me. Dr. Krum stroked his beard,
focused his eyes intently on my knees and went on.
'We lose pigeons. It is nothing. Ve have many pigeons, but chickens could not fly. Pigeons are smart but ve may have
to remove their vings,' he frowned.
Dr. Mann joined us, glass in hand, Jake asked a question and I removed my watchcase and glanced at the single die for
a second role. The tall, gaunt Mr. Thornton arrived, dispensing tiny hors d'oeuvres, crackers with minute pearl-like deposits on them like fish eggs waiting to be fertilized. Each of my three colleagues mechanically took one, Jake downing his in a swallow, Dr. Mann briefly holding his under his nose and then chewing it for the next ten minutes and Dr. Krum taking an intense experimental bite, like a chicken pecking at seed.
Mr. Thornton asked, holding the silver tray and its obscene deposits up toward my chest where I could see it.
`Ununununun,' I vibrated noisily, my lower lip hanging sloppily and my eyes attempting an animal vacancy. With my
huge right paw I swept up and clutched six or seven crackers, almost upsetting the tray, and stuffed them into my
mouth, pieces falling in a splendid dry waterfall down my shirtfront to the floor.
A flicker of human surprise crossed for a millisecond the erased face of Mr. Thornton as he looked into my vacant
gaze and watched me chew ineptly, a bit of moist semi-chewed cracker dangling briefly from my lip before falling
forever to the deep brown rug below.
`Unununun,' I vibrated again.
'Thank you, sir,' said Mr. Thornton and turned to the ladies.
Dr. Krum was emphatically stabbing the air in front of Dr. Mann's stomach as if performing some magic rite before
making an incision.
`Proof! Proof! They do not know the meaning of the verd. They raise money with bribes, they are bankers, barbarians,
businessmen, beasts, they-'
`Shit, who cares?' interrupted Jake. `If they want to get rich and famous, let 'em. We're doing the real work.'
He squinted at me; or was it a wink? `That is true. That is true. Scientists like us and businessmen like them have
nutting in common.'
'un unun,' I said, looking at Dr. Krum, my mouth half open like a fish gasping wide-eyed on the deck of a ship. Dr.
Krum looked up at me seriously and respectfully and then stroked his beard three, four times.
`There are two classes of men: the creators and the - how you say - drudges. Is possible to tell immejetly creators.
`I do not know your verk, Dr. Rhinehart, but from the moment you speak to me, I know, I know.'
`Dr. Rhinehart has the brains all right,' Dr. Mann said. `But he's got a writing block. He prefers to play games. He
expects every article to surpass Freud.'
`He ought, he ought. Is good to surpass Freud.'
`Luke's got a book in the works about sadism,' said Jake, `which may make Stekel and Reich read like Grandma
It was a wink.
They all three looked up expectantly at me. I continued to stare vacant-eyed, mouth agape, at Dr. Krum. There was a
`Yes, yes. Is interesting, sadism,' Dr. Krum said, and his face twitched.
`Unnnnnnnh,' I vibrated, but steadier.
Jake and Dr. Krum looked at me hopefully while Dr. Mann took a graceful sip of his wine.
`You have been verking lung on sadism?'
I stared back at him.
Dr. Mann suddenly excused himself and went to greet three more arrivals at the party, and Arlene took Jake's arm and
whispered something in his ear. He turned reluctantly to talk to her. Dr. Krum was still looking at me. I was only half
conscious of the conversation; I was focused on the crumb in his beard.
`Unununun,' I said. It was a little like a faulty transformer.
`Vunderful - I thought myself of experimenting with sadism in chickens, but is rare. Is rare.'
Dr. Mann returned with two other people, a man and a woman, and introduced them to us. One was Fred Boyd, a
young psychologist from Harvard I knew and liked, and the other was his date, a plump, pleasant blonde with a cream-
smooth complexion - a Miss Welish. She reached out her hand when she was introduced to me, and when I failed to
grasp it, she blushed.
Looking at her I said: `Ununununun.'
She blushed again.
`Hi, Luke, how's it going?' asked Fred Boyd. I turned to him blankly.
`How did Herder do with his grant application to Stonewall?' Dr. Mann asked Fred.
Not so good,' Fred answered. `They wrote that their funds are tied up this year and '
`Is that the Dr. Krum?' a voice asked at my elbow.
I looked down at Miss Welish and then over at Dr. Krum. The crumb was still in his beard, although better hidden
'Blnnh,' I asked.
'Fred thinks so too,' Miss Welish said and she turned us aside from the other conversation. `He says one reason he
admires you is that you don't stand for any nonsense.'
Impulsively I lifted one great paw and dangled it loosely over her shoulder. She was wearing a silver, high-necked dress and the shimmering scales were rough against my wrist. `I beg your pardon,' she said, and when she backed away my paw slid down over a breast and swung briefly like a
pendulum at my side.
She blushed and glanced quickly at the three men talking nearby.
`Fred says that Dr. Krum is very good at what he does, but that what he does isn't really important. What do you think?
`Unn,' I said loudly and stamped one giant foot.
`Oh me too. I don't like animal experimenters myself. I've been doing social work in Staten Island now for two years
and there's so much to be done with people.'
She looked now over at the couch where Dr. Felloni, the elderly lady and the thin old big deal were talking: Miss
Welish seemed to be relaxing in my company.
`Even here, in this very room, there are people whose lives are unfulfilled, people who need help.'
I was silent, but a bit of drool escaped from my lower lip and begun its pilgrimage down my shirt front.
`Unless we can learn to relate to each other,' Miss Welish went on, `to be aware of each other, all the chicken cures in
the world won't help.'
I was staring at Arlene's balloons undulating in the light of the chandelier. A small orgasm of saliva spilled again from my lower lip. `What fascinates me about you psychiatrists is the way you hold yourselves in, remain detached. Don't you ever feel
the suffering you have to deal with?'
Miss Welish turned toward me again and grimaced at the sight of my tie and shirt front.
I began groping clumsily in my pocket for my watchcase with the die.
`Don't you feel the suffering?' Miss Welish repeated.
Pulling out the watchcase I let my head twitch three times sideways and grunted a single, 'Un.'
`Oh God, you men are so hard.'
I slowly raised my lower jaw; it ached from its drooped position. Running my tongue over my dry upper lip, I used
my handkerchief to wipe the saliva from my chest and turned my ryes full on Miss Welish.
`What time is it?' she asked.
`Time for us to stop playing word games and get down to business,' I said.
`I think so too. I can't stand cocktail-party chatter,' she looked pleased that we were at last going to be above it all.
`What's underneath that lovely dress?'
`You like it? Fred bought it for me at Ohrbach's. Don't you like the way it - glimmers?'
She gave the upper part of her body a little shake: her dress shimmered and her chubby arms vibrated.
`You're built, baby - Look, what's your first name?'
'Joya. It's corny, but I like it.'
`Joya. It's a beautiful name. You're beautiful. Your skin is incredibly smooth and creamy. I'd love to run my tongue
I reached my hand up and caressed her cheek and then the back of her neck. She reddened again.
`I was born with it, I guess. My mother has a lovely complexion and Dad too. In fact, Dad-'
`Are your thighs and your belly and your breasts that same creamy white color?'
`Well. .. I guess they are. Except when I get a tan.'
`I'd love to be able to run my hands over your whole body.'
`It's nice. When I put suntan lotion on, it feels so smooth.'
I lowered my lids a little and tried to look sexy.
'You've stopped drooling,' she said.
'Look, Joya, this cocktail-party chatter is giving me a headache, Can't we go someplace for a few minutes where we
can be alone?'
I edged her away toward a hallway, which I knew led to Dr. Mann's office.
`Oh talk talk talk. It gets so sickening after a while.'
`Let me show you Dr. Mann's office. He has some fascinating illustrated books on primitive sexual practices.'
'No pictures of chickens?' and she laughed happily at herself, and I laughed too. Dr. Felloni nodded her head at us as
we passed the couch, and Jake squinted over an Important Person's shoulder as we passed behind the Krum group and
Arlene jiggled her breasts slightly and smiled and we were down the hall and into Dr. Mann's office. I heard a shrill
squeak when we entered and saw then that Dr. Boggles and Miss Reingold were seated on the floor with a pair of
green dice between them, and Boggles, with two-thirds of his clothes removed, was just reaching triumphantly to
remove Miss Reingold's (smiling triumphantly) blouse.
As we backed out, Miss Welish said: `Oh that's disgusting. In Dr. Mann's study! That's disgusting.'
`You're right, Joya, let's go to the bathroom.'
'It's down this way.'
`What are you talking about?'
`A place to talk privately.'
She had stopped in the middle of the hall now and her hands were both clenching her drink.
`No,' she said. `I want to get back to the party.'
`Joya, all I want to do is use your beautiful body. It won't take long.'
`What will we talk about?'
'What? We'll talk about Harry Stack Sullivan's theory of post-operative malaise. Come on.'
As she still remained immobile I realized I was being entirely too middle-class for the uninhibited sex maniac the Die certainly had in mind and, when Miss' Welish began talking of going back to the living room again, I strode forward, knocked her drink to the floor and tried to kiss her powerfully on the mouth.
The explosion of pain in my balls was so intense that for a moment I thought I had been shot. I was blinded with pain and staggered back against the wall with a thud. With the fierce willpower of a saint I forced my eyes open and saw the shimmering silvery back of Miss Welish returning toward the living room - Thank God! - leaving me alone - with my disaster.
I assumed I wouldn't be able to move from my folded-up position for a month and wondered vaguely if Mr. Thornton would dust me regularly. The question also came to my mind how an `uninhibited sex maniac' would react to a major kick in the balls. The answer seemed unequivocal: maniac, gentle Jesus, psychotic hippie, mute moron, Jake Ecstein, Hugh Hefner, Lao-Tzu, Norman Vincent Peale, Billy Graham all would react as I, simple, bespectacled Luke Rhinehart, was acting. Although both my hands were at the scene of the accident, they weren't touching anything; they seemed to be there to do something if anything could ever be done - say next month. Yet, I couldn't force my hands back to a different position. Dr. Krum and Arlene Ecstein were coming down the hall. I tried to straighten up and almost screamed. They stared down at the broken fragments of glass and then stopped in front of me.
`Nasty stomach-ache,' I said. `Severe abdominal cramps. May need an anesthetic.'
`Veil, vell. Tummy-ache, you say?'
`Lower tummy, abdomen, help.' I was whispering.
`Luke, what game are you playing now?' Arlene said and looked down at me (I was folded down a full foot and a half from my normal height) with a bemused smile.
`You're - you're terrific, baby,' I gasped. `Take off - that dress.'
I collapsed slowly sideways to the floor, the pain in my elbow being an almost blissful distraction from the other.
I heard Fred Boyd's voice from farther up the hall asking, `What happened?' and then heard him almost directly over me, laughing.
`I think he's been shot,' Dr. Krum said. `Is serious.'
`Oh, he'll survive,' Fred said, and I felt his hands on one of my arms and then Arlene's on the other, and Fred lifted one arm around his shoulder and dragged me into a bedroom. They threw me on to the bed.
The pain was, in fact, subsiding, and after the three had left, I was able to move a bit, my eyes mostly, but it was progress. Then I remembered it was time for a fresh consultation of the Die and, shuddering at the possibility of a second round of uninhibited sex maniac, I painfully drew the fake watch case out of my pocket and looked: a three: the honest dice man.
I lay back on the bed for a while and stared at the ceiling. I heard voices passing by out in the hall and then only the blurred distant buzz from the living room. The door opened and Lil came in.
`What happened?' she asked sharply. She was immaculately beautiful in her black, low-cut cocktail dress, but her eyes
and mouth were set and cold. I looked up at her and felt a hollowness inside me: what a time and place for this.
`Dr. Krum said you were sick. You disappear with Blondie and then turn up sick. What happened?'
I struggled to a sitting position and dragged my legs off the bed to the floor. I looked up at her.
`It's a long story, Lil.'
`You made a pass at Blondie.'
"Longer than that, much longer.'
`I hate you.'
`Yes. It's inevitable,' I said. `I'm the Dice Man:'
`Had you met her before? I thought Fred told me he'd just met her himself.'
`I'd never met her before. She was thrown into my path and the dice said take her.'
`The dice? What're you talking about?'
`I am the Dice Man.'
Hunched over and disheveled, I'm afraid it wasn't too impressive a moment. We stared at each other, separated by only
six feet in the little bedroom off the hallway of Dr. Mann's museum mausoleum. Lil shook her head as if trying to
`What, if I may ask, is the dice man?'
Dr. Krum and Arlene again appeared, Dr. Krum carrying a black bag similar to those carried by general practitioners
in the early nineteenth century. .
`You are better?' he said.
`Yes. Thank you. I will rise again.'
`Good, good. I have an anesthetic. You vant?'
`No. It won't be necessary. Thanks.'
`What is the dice man, Luke?' Lil repeated. She hadn't moved since entering the room. I saw Arlene start and felt her
eyes upon me as I turned back to Lil.
`The Dice Man,' I said slowly, `is an experiment in changing the personality, in destroying the personality.'
`Is interesting,' Dr. Krum said.
`Go on,' Lil said.
To destroy the single dominant personality one must be capable of developing many personalities; one must become
`You're stalling,' Lil said. `What is the dice man?'
'The Dice Man,' I said, and I shifted my gaze to Arlene; who, wide-eyed and alert, watched me as if I were an
enthralling movie, `is a creature whose actions are decided from day to day by the roll of dice, the dice choosing from
among options created by the man.'
There was a silence, which lasted perhaps five seconds.
`Is interesting,' Dr. Krum said. `But difficult with chickens: Another silence followed and I turned my eyes back to Lil
who, straight, dignified and beautiful, raised now a hand to her forehead and rubbed softly just below the hairline. Her
expression was one of shock.
`I - I never meant a thing to you,' she said quietly.
`But you did. I have to fight my attachment to you time and time again.'
`Come on, Dr. Krum, let's get out of here,' Arlene said.
Lil turned her head and looked away out the darkened window, oblivious of Arlene and Dr. Krum.
`You could do the things you did, to me, to Larry, to Evie,' because the dice . . .?' she finally said.
This time I didn't reply. Dr. Krum looked perplexed from me to Lil to me, shaking his head.
`You could use me, lie to me, betray me, mock, me, whore me and remain . . . happy: `For something greater than
either of us,' I said.
Arlene had pulled Dr. Krum away and they disappeared out the door.
Lil looked down at the wedding ring on her left hand, felt its texture between her fingers, her face soft, wistful.
`Everything. . ' she shook her head slowly, dreamily. `Every thing between us for a year, no. No. For all, for all our
lives, becomes ashes.'
`Yes,' I said.
`Because … because you want to play your maniac, your adulterer, your hippie, your dice man.'
`And what, what if I told you now,' Lil went on, `that for a year I've been having an affair with - I know it sounds silly
but an affair with the garage attendant downstairs?'
'Lil, that's wonderful: pain flashed across her face.'
'What if I told you that tonight before coming here, in tucking the children in goodnight, in following a theory of mine
to show detachment, I had … I had strangled Larry and Evie?'
There we were opposite each other, an old married couple chatting about the- doings of the day.
`If it were done for a . . . a useful theory it would be..'
Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his children's lives for his theory.
`You would, of course, kill them if the dice told you to,' Lil said.
`I don't think I'd ever give that particular option into the hands of the dice.'
'Only adultery, theft, fraud and treason; `I might give Larry and Evie into . the hands of the Die, but myself too.'
She was rocking now on her heels, her hands clenched in front of her, still immaculately beautiful.
`I guess I should be thankful,' she said. `The mystery is over But … but it's not easy to have the death of the man you loved most in the world told to you by . . . by his corpse.'
`Interesting point,' I said.
Lil's head jerked back at my reply and her eyes widened slowly until, suddenly, she threw herself on me with a convulsive shriek, pulling my hair and then beating me with her fists. I hunched over to protect myself. but I felt so hollow inside that Lil's blows were like a gentle rain falling on an empty barrel. It occurred to me that it was long past time to consult the Die again. I wasn't interested. I didn't feel interested in anything. The blows stopped and Lil, crying loudly, ran toward the door. Arlene was standing there, looking terrified, and caught Lil in her arms. They disappeared, and I was alone.
As I sit here writing of that distant night, the tragedies and comedies bloom like flowers around me still, and I continue on from day to day or year to year to play a role, and certainly, sooner or later, I'll abandon that of dice man too. A role, a role. Star billing one day, walk-on the next. Vaudeville standup comic Shakespearian-fool. Alceste in the morning, Gary Cooper and a hippie during the day, Jesus at night. I no longer remember precisely when I stopped acting: when the fallen die began to click to life roles where there was no residual me fighting them and no dice man me feeling proud, only lives being lived. I do remember that alone in that room that night after Lil left I felt a full joyous uninhibited grief. I was in pain, I suffered, I was there.
And you, Friend, sprawled on your bed or sitting in your chair, you giggle perhaps as I slobber as Caliban, smile at my sufferings as an honest man, or sigh when I ponderously play the fool, philosophizing my madness, lecturing you on the metaphor of life as play. But I am the honest man - with all his senseless suffering for those who will feel; I am the fool. I've been Raskolnikov climbing the stairs, Julien Sorel hearing the clock strike ten, Molly Bloom writhing beneath the rhythmic push of Blazes Boylan's prick. Agonies are one of my changes of garments - fortunately not worn as often as my motley - of the fool.
And you, Reader, good friend and fellow fool my reader, you, yes you, my sweet cipher, are the Dice Man. Having read this far, you are doomed to carry with you burned forever in your soul the self I've here portrayed: the Dice Man. You are multiple and one of you is me. I have created in you a flea which will forever make you itch. Ah, Reader, you never should have let me be born. Other selves bite now and then no doubt. But the Dice Man flea demands to be scratched at every moment: he is, insatiable. You will never know an itchless moment again - unless, of course, you become the flea.
On the edge of the bed, alone, the party outside seeming to settle into precisely the businesslike buzz it manifested before, Luke Rhinehart sat hunched over, numbed. There was no retreat He was the Dice Man or he was no one. His body knew, dough he could not yet be aware consciously, that Luke Rhinehart was now an impossible existence. Numbed, he disturbed the Die by not consulting the watch for almost ten minutes. Then, having no place else to go, no one else to be, he took out the watch with the die and looked.
Slowly he straightened himself up and, standing, bowed his head in a brief prayer. Then he smoothed down his clothing and his hair and moved toward the party. He wanted first see his wife to abase himself before her. He walked down the hall to the living room and from the doorway squinted through the random clusters of faces, looking for her. Those talking and drinking paid him no special attention, but Mrs. Ecstein came up behind him and said that his wife was in Dr. Mann's office: He followed her down the hall and over the broken glass to the office. He found Dr. Mann and Dr. Ecstein standing awkwardly on either side of his wife, who sat, childlike, on the edge of Dr. Mann's consulting couch.
The sight of her, hunched over and small, her face pale but streaked with smeared eye shadow, her hair in disarray, an ugly man's sweater draped clumsily over her shoulders, knocked Dr. Rhinehart without conscious intention to his with his chest and head too lowering forward until he groveled at his wife's feet.
The room was silent that they could all hear quite distinctly from the centre of the house the ratatattat of Dr. Krum's laughter: `Forgive me, Lil, I am mad,' Dr. Rhinehart said.
Ne one spoke. Rhinehart raised his head and chest from the floor to look at his wife and he said: `For what I have done there is no forgiveness in this world; but I am repentant. I . . . I have been purified … by the hell that I am causing. I..' His eyes suddenly brightened with eagerness `I feel only love for you and for all here. The world can be a blessed place if we but love one another.'
'Luke, baby, what are you . . .?' Dr. Ecstein said, and he took a step forward as if to raise Dr. Rhinehart up but stopped.
`Beautiful, beautiful Jake, I'm talking about love.'
Dr. Rhinehart shook his head slowly as if confused, and a childlike smile appeared on his face. `I've been all mixed up,
all wrong; love, loving, loveliness is all there is: He turned and stretched out his arms to his wife. 'Lil, my darling, you
must realize that Heaven is here, is now, with me.'
His wife returned his gaze for a moment and then slowly raised her eyes to Dr. Mann beside her. A look of immense
relief began to appear on her face.
`He is insane, isn't he?' she asked.
'I don't know,' Dr. Mann said. `Now, of course, but he keeps changing so. It may be only temporary.'
'You fools, we've all been insane,' Dr. Rhinehart said. `I but look at each of you and love. God is shining forth from
each of you like fluorescent lights. Open your eyes and see: He was erect now on his knees, his fists clenched and his
face strangely exalted.
`Better give him a shot of sodium amaytol, Tim,' Dr. Ecstein said to Dr. Mann in a whisper.
`I've only got pills here in the house,' Dr. Mann whispered back.
`Careless,' Dr. Ecstein said.
`But why why why,' Dr. Rhinehart began forcefully, `do you want to quiet God? I am among you spraying love and
you do not hear, do not see, do not let it refresh you.'
He arose. `I must beg forgiveness of that poor innocent girl and show her my new love.'
And he abruptly strode from the room.
Down the hall and over the broken glass again and into the living room. Miss Welish was with Dr. Boyd beside the
bookcase in one corner. When he went to them, Dr. Boyd came protectively between Dr. Rhinehart and the girl.
`What now, Luke?' he said.
`I am deeply sorry for the insane attack I made on you, Miss Welish. I sincerely regret it. Only now do I see the true
meaning of love.'
Miss Welish, round-eyed, peeked around her escort's shoulder.
`Oh come off it, Luke,' Dr. Boyd said.
'You are beautiful; you are both beautiful, and I deeply regret having marred this wonderful evening.'
'I hope I didn't hurt you,' Miss Welish said.
'My pain was the initial source of my seeing the light. I can't thank you enough.'
'Any time,' Dr. Boyd said. `Come on, Joya, let's leave.'
`But I have to. . ' The voice of Miss Welish was lost behind the retreating figure of Dr. Boyd.
`You are better, true?' Dr. Krum said suddenly from below and beside Dr. Rhinehart as the two others moved away.
The min, elderly former Big Deal was with him, and so was a fiftyish Important Person puffing on a pipe. As they
began talking, Dr. Weinburger, president of PANY, the chubby middle-aged woman joined them.
`I am whole at last,' Dr. Rhinehart replied.
'What was this about the dice man, hey? Vas interesting.'
`The Dice Man is a deeply sick concept, totally lacking in love.'
`Seemed a bit schizophrenic the way Dr. Krum described it,' said Dr. Weinburger.
`But the idea of destroying the personality: is interesting,' Dr. Krum went on.
`Only if it shatters the shell which hides our love,' Dr. Rhinehart replied.
`Love?' Dr. Weinburger inquired.
`Vat has love to do vith anything?' asked Dr. Krum.
`Love has something to do with everything. If I do not love I am dead.'
`How true,' the woman said.
`My whole recent life has been thrown away in a cold, mechanical dicelife. I see that now as clearly as your beautiful,
'Luke, I'd like you to come outdoors with me for a few minutes now,' Dr. Ecstein's voice said at Dr. Rhinehart's side.
`I will, Jake, but I must explain something first to' Dr. Krum.'
He turned to the little man beside him with a warm, pleading expression.
'You must stop your work with pigeons and work only with man. You can never approach what is essential to man's health and happiness through torturing chickens and pigeons. Schizophrenia is a failure to love, a failure to see loveliness. It will never be cured by a drug.'
`Oh, Dr. Rhinehart, you are being sentimental like poet,' Dr. Krum said.
`A single line of Shelley tells us more of man than all your chicken pigeon droppings ever can.'
`People haf been spouting love two thousand years. Nothing. With chemicals we change the world.'
'Thou shah not kill,' Dr. Rhinehart said.
We do not kill, only make psychotics.'
`You do not love your chickens.'
`Is impossible. No one who works with chickens can ever luf them.'
'A spiritual man loves all with a spiritual love that is never selfish, possessive or physical.'
`Oh, for Christ's sake, Luke Dr. Ecstein said.
`Precisely,' said Dr. Rhinehart. `Excuse me a moment.'
With the eminent physicians looking on, Dr. Rhinehart consulted his watch case. He groaned.
Dr. Krum asked.
Dr. Rhinehart's eyes swiveled over the room like artillery radar seeking its target.
`I didn't know Dr. Rhinehart was an existentialist humanist,' the woman said.
`He's a nut,' Dr. Ecstein said, `even if he is my patient'
`Meetcha outside in five minutes, Jake. So long fellas,' Dr. Rhinehart said and strode off toward the entrance hall, but
after passing a cluster of people behind the couch he veered to his right and went down the same hallway again.
As he crunched over the broken glass he saw Miss Welish and Mrs. Ecstein emerging from the room opposite the one
he had been carried to. They stopped at the end of the hall and looked at him warily.
'Lil's been given a pill and is resting,' Mrs. Ecstein said. `I don't think you should disturb her.'
`My God, Arlene, your boobs make my mouth water. Let's go into the john.'
Mrs. Ecstein stared at him for a moment. She looked sideways at Miss Welish and then back to the doctor. Then, still
staring at her mentor, she shook her tiny purse up and down three times, opened it a crack, and peeked in. Closing the
purse, she said: `I love your big prick, Luke. Let's go: Miss Welish looked in awe from one to the other.
`You too, baby;' Dr. Rhinehart said to her.
`Come along, Joya,' Mrs. Ecstein said. `It'll be fun.'
She touched Miss Welish lightly on the breasts and went into the bathroom to her left. Miss Welish watched Mrs. Ecstein leave and then found herself face to face with Dr. Rhinehart again.
`Most beautiful body in the world, baby, except your knee. Let's go.'
She stared at him.
`But here?' she said.
`Here and now, baby, that's all there is' He moved around her to the bathroom, held the door open and waited. With a swift backward glance up the empty hallway she walked toward the bathroom.
`You people are really amazing,' she said. `Are all psychiatrists' parties like this?'
`Only Dr. Mann's,' Dr. Rhinehart said and followed her in.
[Being excerpts from Dr. Ecstein's case history entitled, `The Case of the Six-Sided Man'.]
After R had erratically broken off his conversation with the three psychiatrists, he left the party area. The three discussed the situation briefly and then were joined by Dr. M. after further discussion it was decided that R ought to be taken immediately to a private clinic. M telephoned the Clinic and asked for an ambulance. M and Dr. E. then went along with Dr. B to locate R.
He was not outside, nor was he in M's office, but it was soon ascertained that he had locked himself in the bathroom. At first the doctors were concerned for R's life, but were reassured by the sound of other voices from the room. He called to those inside, but received no answer. B banged loudly on the door until E warned him it might be dangerous to excite R. For two minutes M tried to talk rationally with the patient but E, B and M heard only grunts in reply. B wanted to break the door down and enter, but M and E urged caution considering R's bulk and strength. An ambulance with attendants would soon arrive. Then female screams were heard from within the bathroom, and it was ascertained that the women with R were in all likelihood A and JW, female acquaintances of E and B. The door was broken down. It was disclosed that R had been in the process of raping the two females. The clothes of both were in extreme disarray and R's genitals were exposed and tumescent. He stood in the center of the room slobbering lasciviously and grunting. He seemed to have regressed to the bestial state. He could answer none of our questions and resisted our efforts to separate him from the females only in the most clumsy and ineffectual way. He had become docile.
The two females seemed in a state of shock and could not explain their delay in calling for help. Whether it was the threat of R's great strength or some inexplicable hypnotic power occasionally exerted by the mentally imbalanced has never been determined. B had a different theory: Eventually, both females emerged from shock and burst into tears.
`It was horrible,' said A.
`The things he tried to make us do,' said JW.
R only slobbered and grunted. The doctors had to dress him themselves, since he seemed incapable of it himself. K and M both advanced the hypothesis that the patient had subsided into a catatonic state. E, however, even at this early date, was able to postulate that R's breakdowns were random and sporadic and that a spontaneous remission of symptoms should be expected.
Such was the case. Ten minutes later as all sat quietly and in great fatigue waiting for an ambulance, R began talking again. He apologized sincerely and realistically for his behavior, praised the doctors for the gentle and intelligent way they had handled a difficult situation, reassured them that he was now at last completely himself again, and after twenty minutes or so had most of those present laughing at the whole situation, then abruptly, just as the ambulance arrived, he threw himself on the only woman left in the room. Dr. F, and seemed, to be attempting coitus. The attendants and doctor arrived, he was pulled off, an injection was administered and the patient was taken to - Clinic ….
Thus, the following day, June 16, E, as his psychiatrist, was able to visit him. It soon became apparent that R was under the illusion that he was a young hippie of extremely sarcastic, bent. Although he related to E, it was in a negative, aggressive way. The patient, although in complete contact with reality and often extremely observant, was not himself, and thus was still insane.
On June 17 it was reported by the clinic that the patient spent his time in total silence, staring into space and occasionally grunting. He had to be spoon-fed and was unable to control his excretory functions. It seemed that a permanent catatonic state might have been reached.
But R's recuperative powers continued to amaze. On the next day it was reported that he was talking again, relating well to the staff and physicians and requesting reading material, mostly of a religious nature. This last fact naturally worried E, but on June 19, 20 and 21 no new change was reported, so on June 22 E visited R again at the clinic..
While I bounced nicely from role to role in the Kolb Clinic, the rest of the world continued, I regret to say, to exist. Dr. Mann informed me that the executive committee of PANY had decided to consider the motion of Dr. Peerman for my expulsion from the organization at its monthly meeting on June 30. He believed that although he himself was urging the committee to permit me to quietly resign, it was almost certain that they would vote to expel me and to write to the AMA suggesting that organization do the same.
Arlene wrote me that the dice, had told her that I was the father of the baby-to-be and that she had told Lil and Jake and most of the rest of the world the truth, or most of it, and thus Jake knew of our affair and of the dicelife. She said she couldn't come to therapy for a while.
Lil came to visit me just once to congratulate me on my future fatherhood and to announce that she had initiated divorce proceedings by taking out the necessary separation papers and that her lawyer would be visiting me shortly. (He did, but I was in the state of catatonia at the time.) She stated that separation and divorce were clearly best for both of us especially since I would undoubtedly be spending much of the rest of my life in mental institutions.
Dr. Vener of QSH told me that my former patient Eric Cannon had, after two months of leading a growing herd-of hippies in Brooklyn and in the East Village, been recommitted to the hospital by his father and was asking to see me. He also noted that Arturo Toscanini Jones had also been recommitted - on a technicality unearthed by diligent police #161;and was not asking to see me.
In fact, the only good news I was getting from the rest of the world was from my patients in dice therapy. All took my being locked up perfectly in their stride, continued to develop their dicelife on their own and waited patiently and confidently for my return to them. Terry Tracy visited me twice at the clinic and spent two and a half hours trying to convert me to the Ultimata-Truth of the Religion of the Die. I was deeply moved.
Professor Boggles wrote me a long letter about a mystical experience he had had in Central Park after following the Die writing a particularly nonsensical article on Theodore and the Lyrical Impulse. Two of my new patients visited me regularly during my second wok at the clinic and dad me continue therapy with them there.
Arlene, too, seemed to grow in dice stature during this crisis period. Her letter explaining what was happening on the home front made me quite proud of her and prepared me for my interviews with Jake. She told me that Jake had taken her confession of infidelity quite calmly but had bawled her out for keeping it all to herself. It seems it was her ethical duty to provide him with as much information as possible about herself and everyone she knew since he could not fulfil his therapeutic duties without honesty and information. She had therefore gone on to tell him about her own and my dicelife and our dice games together. He had taken extensive notes and asked a lot of questions but was very calm. He had ordered her to limit her dicelife to the socially conventional until he had an opportunity to study the situation. She had then suggested that it might be of help to him if he experimented with some of the dice games with her in order to understand her problems and my problems better. He agreed, and they had had the best night together that they had had since high school days. Jake said he found it interesting. Arlene wrote that she could come visit me as soon as the Die said it was okay.
When Jake visited me on June 22 in the early evening I apologized to him immediately for any of my actions in the past which might have hurt him. It so fell that I was in the first day of The Old Pre-D-Day Luke Rhinehart Week - a role I found very hard to play. I told him that by all conventional standards what I had done in seducing his wife was unforgivable, but that I hoped he understood my philosophical aims in following the dice.
`Yeah, Luke,' he said, sitting down in a chair opposite my bod and in front of a lovely barred window overlooking a wall. `But you're a strange one, got to admit. Tough nut to crack, so to speak.'
He took out a small note pad and a pen. `Like to know more about this dice man life of yours'
`You're sure, Jake,' I said, `that there's no, well, no resentment over any of the ways which I may have betrayed you, lied to you or humiliated you?'
`Can't humiliate me, Luke; a man's mind should be above emotion.'
He was looking down at his pad and writing. `Tell me about this dice man stuff.'
I was sitting up in my bed and I leaned back comfortably into the four pillows I had had piled behind me and prepared to tell Jake what I had learned.
`It's really amazing, Jake. It's shown me emotions in myself I never knew existed.' I paused. `I think I've stumbled onto something important, something psychotherapy has been looking for for centuries. Arlene told you I've got a small group of students in dice therapy. There are other doctors trying it as well. It's … well, maybe I'd better give you the whole background theory and history…'
'You want I should cheer?'
With much dignity, praise and detail, I summarized in about half an hour the Dice Man in theory and practice. I thought a lot of what I had to say was quite funny, but Jake never smiled, except professionally: to give me confidence to go on.
Finally I concluded: `And thus my eccentricities, inconsistencies, absurdities, and breakdowns of the last year have all been the logical consequences of a highly original but highly rational approach to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'
There was a silence.
`I realize that in developing dice theory I have done things which have caused suffering to others as well as myself, but in so far as all was necessary to bring me to my present spiritual state, it may be justified.'
Again there was a silence until at last Jake raised his head.
`Well?' I asked. With my arms folded on my chest I awaited with incredible tension Jake's evaluation of my theory and my life.
`So?' he said.
`So?' I replied.
`But why not? I . .. aren't I developing a facet of man too long impressed in the jail of personality?'
`You've just described to me in great detail the classic symptoms of schizophrenia: multiple selves, detachment, elation
depression: you want I should cheer?'
`But the schizophrenic becomes split and multiple against his will; he longs for unity. I have consciously created
'You show a total inability to relate to anyone personally.'
`But if the dice tell me to I can.'
`If it can be turned on and off it's not normal human relatedness.'
He was looking at me calmly and without expression, whereas I was getting excited.
`But how do you know that normal, uncontrollable human relatedness is more desirable than my switch-button variety?
He didn't answer. After a while he said: `Did the dice tell you to tell me?'
`They told Arlene.'
`Did they tell you both to throw some lies in too?'
'No, that was our personal contribution.'
'The dice are wrecking your career.'
`I suppose so.'
'They've ruined your marriage.'
`They make it impossible for me or anyone else to rely on anything you say or do from now on.'
'They mean that anything you begin may be abandoned right at the point of fruition by a whim of a die.'
`Including the investigations of the dice man.'
`Ah, Jake, you understand perfectly.'
`I think I do.'
`Why don't you try it too?' I asked warmly. `It's possible.'
`We could become the Dynamic Dice Duo, dealing dreams and destruction to the pattern-plagued world of modern
`Yes, that's interesting.'
`You're about the only one I know intelligent enough to understand what the Dice Man is really all about.'
`I suppose I am.'
`Have to think it over, Luke. It's a big step.'
`Sure, I understand.'
`It's got to be Oedipal; that damn father of yours.'
`Wha - what?'
'That time when you were three and your mother-'
`Jake! What are you talking about?' I asked loudly and with irritation. `I've just unfolded the most imaginative new life
system in the history of man and you start talking old Freudian mythology.'
'Huh? Oh, I'm sorry,' he said, smiling his professional smile. `Go ahead.'
But I laughed, bitterly I'm afraid. `No, never mind. I'm tired of talking today,' I said. Jake leaned forward and stared at
'I'll cure you,' he said. I'll tie you back into the old Luke or my name isn't Jake Ecstein. Don't you worry.'
I sighed and felt sad. 'Yeah,' I said dully. I won't worry.'
The pre-D-Day Luke Rhinehart created by the dice for the week of June 22 appeared so conventional, so rational, so
ambitious and so interested in psychology that Doctors Ecstein and Mann decided to take a chance and permit me to defend myself at the meeting of the executive committee of PANY on June 30. Jake, while not yet convinced of the soundness of my theory, was increasingly enjoying certain dice exercises to which Arlene was introducing him and wished to be generous. Dr. Mann, not having been informed of the radical nature of my dicelife, was vaguely hopeful that the rational, conventional, ambitious man he talked to during the week of June 22 would still exist on the thirtieth. The executive committee had agreed to my presence because they could find nothing in their bylaws which forbade it.
The charges against me were simple - my theories and practice of dice therapy were incompetent, ridiculous, unethical
and of no `lasting medical value.' Consequently, I should be expelled from PANY and a letter should be sent to the president of the AMA urging that I be forbidden to practice medicine anywhere in the United States or Canada (the southern part of the hemisphere being considered beyond salvation). I looked forward to the meeting as a welcome break from the confinement of the Kolb Clinic. Then occurred one of those unfortunate accidents which flaw even the most well-ordered dicelife: I absentmindedly gave the dice a foolish option and the Die chose it. When considering what to do about the PANY indictment - to which my residual self was indifferent the old Luke Rhinehart I was being that week created as an option that if the committee voted to expel me I would cease dice therapy and dice living for one year. I gaily toppled a die onto my hospital bed and lost my gaiety: the Die chose that option.
In so far as anything is certain in this Die-dictated universe, it was certain that the executive committee would find me guilty. Not one of the five members of the committee was likely to be sympathetic. Dr. Weinburger, the chairman, was an ambitious, successful, conventional genius who hated everything that took time away from his glory-producing activities at his Institute for the Study of Hypochondria in the Dying.
He had never heard of me before his brief brush with me at the Krum party and it was clear he would hope never to hear of me again.
Old Dr. Cobblestone was a fair, rational, open-minded and just man who would thus naturally vote against me. Although Dr. Mann had been trying to get the fellow members of the committee to agree to force me to resign quietly from PANY, after he failed in this effort he would naturally vote to condemn everything he detested. Namely me.
The fourth member of the committee was Dr. Peerman, who had initiated the proceedings against me when two of his brightest young psychiatrist interns - Joe Fineman and Fuigi Arishi - had suddenly deserted him and begun practicing dice therapy under my random tutelage. He was a slight, pale, middle-aged man with a high-pitched voice, whose fame rested securely on his widely acclaimed research demonstrating that teenagers who smoked marijuana were more likely to try LSD than teenagers who did not. His vote in my favor seemed doubtful. Finally there was Dr. Moon, an ancient body in the heavens of New York psychoanalysis, a personal friend of Freud, the creator, in the early 1920s, of the widely discussed theory of the natural, irreversible depravity of children and a member of the executive committee of PANY since its origin in 1923. Although he was seventy-seven years old and one of the leading subjects in Dr. Weinburger's Institute for the Study of Hypochondria in the Dying, he still tried to take vigorous part in the proceedings. Unfortunately, his behavior was sometimes so erratic that from what I had heard it seemed he might be a secret diceperson, although his colleagues attributed his `slight eccentricities' to `incipient senility.'
Although he was reputed to be the most reactionary member in all of PANY, his was the only vote that - because of his unreliability - didn't seem certain to go against me.
Hang considered the likely attitudes of my judges, I gave the Die a one-in-thirty-six chance that I kill myself. Unfortunately, it spurned the offer.
But the fact remained that if the committee expelled me the Die had ordered me to abandon the dicelife for one year, and this thought depressed me beyond all my previous experience. It so terrified me that for the three days before the scheduled meeting I worked every hour to prepare what seemed to me a reasonable case for my dice theory and therapy. I took notes, wrote articles, practiced speeches and considered what roles would best permit me somehow to sway Doctors Cobblestone and Mann to vote against my expulsion. Then my only hope would lie in some accident permitting the erratic old Dr. Moon to also be on my side.
Such dedicated work was possible since I was still in The Old Luke Rhinehart Week, but on June 29 it would end and the Die would have to choose a new role or roles for the last two days. Would the Die choose that I switch roles rapidly as at the Krum party? Would it permit me to be my most rational and articulate? Would it tell me to blow the whole thing? I wouldn't know until the die was cast.
On June 28, 1969, at approximately 2.30 in the afternoon in the New York Public Library at 42nd Street, where Jake had permitted me to go with a bodyguard attendant, I discovered the laughing men in the sky.
I was sitting a trifle despondent at an isolated table alongside row upon row of stacks doing research on my defense. To my right was a small table with two men and a teen-age boy. There was no one at my table except an old woman opposite me with bushy eyebrows and hairy arms reading behind a pile of books. My attendant was standing in the corner near the window reading a comic. I had been sitting there for perhaps forty minutes, running my big fingers over the uneven grained surface of the table and daydreaming about what some of my options might be for my mode of defense and finding that my mind seemed drawn to such cheerful ones as strangling Dr. Peerman, sitting wordlessly throughout the proceedings but maintaining a continually low giggle, or peeing ostentatiously on any papers they might bring. With an effort I decided that I must force my mind back to its defense and I asked again, almost in an audible whisper: `What, then, can I do to save myself?'
As I was repeating this question to myself and doodling with a wooden pencil in one of the cracks in the table, there came above the street noises the sound of bubbling human laughter.
The sound made me smile; then I realized its un-likelihood in the New York Public Library. I looked around. The old lady opposite me was looking with knitted bush brows at one of her pile of books; the three males at the other table seemed neither amused nor offended; my attendant was scowling as if stuck with some tough words. Yet the bubbling laughter continued, even growing louder.
Then, surprise, the laughter must be my hallucination.
I sat back in my chair and tried briefly to block it out, but the laughter continued to flow. When I looked up, I saw very far away and high up a fat man shaking with laughter and pointing a finger at me. He seemed to think that my effort to find the right defense was the play of a, silly fool. He also found amusing my effort to smile at the realization that I was a fool. He thought my seeing his laughter at my smiling at his laughing was also funny. When I finally frowned, he laughed even harder. `Enough,' I said loudly, but began to laugh myself.
The old woman with the bushy brows stared at me coldly. The two men at the other table turned their heads. My attendant turned a page at last. The fat man above shook again with laughter, and I laughed harder, my big belly bumping against the table; I was almost out of control. The people stared, even the attendant. At last I stopped.
So did the fat man, although he still smiled, and I felt very dose to him. I thought again of the spectacular, nonsensical options that I'd been considering and decided I'd throw them out. The fat man began laughing again. I looked up startled, smiled socially at him and decided that I would instead use all three non-rational options. He laughed harder. With a flush I realized that I would have to abandon the dicelife completely, but the fat man laughed on and was joined by three, four other fat men all pointing at me and laughing joyously.
My mind was filled suddenly with the vision of thousands of fat men sitting up there in that fourth dimension watching the antics of human aspiration and purpose, and laughing - not a single one sober or compassionate or pitying. Our plan, hopes, expectations, and promises; and the realities of the future which they could also see: only a source of laughter. The men (they were both men and women actually, but all fat) often crowded together to look at one particular human whose life seemed to evoke special ironies or humor.
When I realized that neither abandoning the dicelife nor retaining it would end the eternal amusement of the fat people in the sky I felt like a man on some television show who is asked to guess what's behind the green wall. No matter what he guesses, the audience, which can see what is behind the wall while he can't, laughs. All my writhings in the present to find a future which will please me evoke only laughter in the audience in the sky. `The best laid plans of mice and men gang oft astray,' said Napoleon with a chuckle on his return from Moscow.
I was laughing again with my fat men, and the woman opposite me and my attendant with a finger to his lips were both hissing violent `shhhhshes.'
`Look!' I said with a huge smile, and pointed off toward the ceiling and the fourth dimension. `It's all there,' I went on between chuckles. `The answer - up there.'
The old woman glanced sternly up at the ceiling, adjusted her glasses twice and then looked back at me. She looked embarrassed and a little guilty.
`I . . . I don't see it, I'm afraid,' she said.
I laughed. I looked up at my fat man and he laughed at my laughing. I laughed at him.
`That's all right,' I said to the old lady. `Don't worry about it. You'll be all right.'
The two men from the next table were firing: `shhhs,' and my attendant was standing nervously beside me, but I raised
my hand to silence them. Smiling warmly I said `The great thing about the answer…' and I began again, big belly
bubbling and joyous, `The great thing is that it doesn't do us any good at all.'
Laughing, I thumbed my nose at the laughing men in the sky - who laughed - and began walking through the library,
trailed by my attendant and leaving behind me like a big boat a wake of `shhhhhs' as I passed.
`It's all right,' I said loudly to everyone. `Knowing the answer doesn't matter. You don't have to know.'
Interestingly enough, no one approached me as I walked on through the central reading room of the New York Public
Library, my belly booming out its Answer to the stack upon stack of answers and the row upon row of seekers. Only at
the exit did I find someone who responded to me. An ancient portly library guard with flushed face and huge Santa
Claus pot came up to me as I was about to leave and, smiling as if his face would burst, said in a louder voice than
mine `gotta tone dawn the laughing during hours,' and then we both roared out into new laughter louder than ever until
I turned and left.
The Die is my shepherd;
I shall not want;
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, I lie;
He leadeth me beside the still waters, I swim.
He destroyeth my soul
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
For randomness sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Chance is with me;
Thy two sacred cubes they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me In the presence of mine enemies
Thou anointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy and evil and cruelty shall follow ma
All the days of my life
And I will dwell in the house of Chance for ever.
from The Book of the Die
The meeting of the executive committee of the Psychoanalysts' Association of New York took place early on the
afternoon of 30 June, 1969, in a large seminar room at Dr. Weinburger's Institute for the Study of Hypochondria in the
Dying. Dr. Weinburger, a bushy-haired, thickset man in his late forties, sat impatiently behind a long table with
Doctors Peerman and Cobblestone on one side of him and old Dr. Moon and Dr. Mann on the other. All the gentlemen
looked serious and intent except for Dr. Moon, who was sleeping quietly between Chairman Weinburger and Dr.
Mann, occasionally sliding slowly sideways to rest against the shoulder of the one, and then, like a pendulum that
badly needs oiling, after a hesitation, sliding slowly back across the arc to rest against the shoulder of the other.
The table at which the five sat was so long that they looked more like fugitives huddled together for mutual protection
rather than judges. Dr. Rhinehart and Dr. Ecstein, who was present as friend and personal physician, sat on stiff
wooden chairs in the middle of the room opposite them. Dr. Ecstein was slumped and squinting, but Dr. Rhinehart was
erect and alert, looking extremely professional in a perfectly tailored gray suit and tie and shoes shined to such a luster
that Dr. Ecstein wondered whether he hadn't cheated by using black Day-glo.
`Yes, sir,' Dr. Rhinehart said before anyone else had said a word.
`One moment, Dr. Rhinehart,' Dr. Weinburger said sharply. He looked down at the papers in front of him. `Does Dr. Rhinehart know the charges being brought against him?'
'Yes,' said Doctors Mann and Ecstein at the same time.
`What's all this about dice, young man?' Dr. Cobblestone asked. His cane lay on the table in front of him as if it were a piece of evidence relevant to the proceedings.
`A new therapy I'm developing, sir,' Dr. Rhinehart replied promptly.
`I understand that,' he said. `What we mean is that you should explain.'
`Well, sir, in dice therapy we encourage our patients to reach decisions by casting dice. The purpose is to destroy the personality We wish to create in its place a multiple personality: an individual inconsistent, unreliable and progressively schizoid' Dr. Rhinehart spoke in a clear, firm and reasonable voice, but for some reason his answer was greeted by a silence, broken only by Dr. Moon's harsh, uneven breathing. Dr. Cobblestone's stern lower jaw became sterner.
`Go on,' said Dr. Weinburger.
`My theory is that we all have minority impulses which are stifled by the normal personality and rarely break free into action. The desire to hit one's wife is forbidden by the concept of dignity, femininity and covetousness of unbroken crockery. The desire to be religious is stopped by the knowledge that orgy "is" an atheist. Your desire, sir, to shout "stop this nonsense!" is stopped by your sense of yourself as a fair and rational man.
The minority impulses are the Negroes of the personality. They have not enjoyed freedom since the personality was founded; they have become the invisible men. We refuse to recognize that a minority impulse is a potential full man, and that until he is granted the same opportunity for development as the major conventional selves, the personality in which he fines will be divided, subject to tensions which lead to periodic explosions and riots.'
`Negroes must be kept in their place,' said Dr. Moon suddenly, his round, wrinkled face suddenly coming alive with the appearance of two fierce red eyes in its ravaged landscape. He was leaning forward intensely, his mouth, after he had finished his short sentence, dangling open.
`Go on,' said Dr. Weinburger.
Dr Rhinehart nodded gravely to Dr. Moon and resumed.
'Every personality is the sum total of accumulated suppressions of minorities. Were a man to develop a consistent pattern of impulse control he would have no definable personality: ha would be unpredictable and anarchic, one might even say, free.'
'He would be insane,' came Dr. Peerman's high-pitched voice from his end of the table. His thin, pale face was expressionless.
`Let us hear the man out,' said Dr. Cobblestone.
`Go on,' said Dr. Weinburger.
`In stable, unified, consistent societies the narrow personality had value; men could fulfill themselves with only one self. Not today. In a multivalent society, the multiple personality is the only one which can fulfill. Each of us has a hundred suppressed potential selves which never let us forget that no matter how mightily we step along the narrow single path of our personality, our deepest desire it to be multiple: to play many roles.