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The Fiction Issue 2012

Dicey Decisions

George Cockcroft is a psychiatrist who makes all of his life decisions with a roll of the dice.
July 6, 2012, 12:30pm

We wish that 1971’s The Dice Man was an autobiography by a 14-year-old Andrew Dice Clay, but it’s actually a novel about a psychiatrist named Luke Rhinehart (who is also its supposed author) who begins to make all of his decisions by rolling dice. Soon he’s raping, murdering, and forming a cult. As bizarre as it sounds, the book is based on a true story. George Cockcroft, the novel’s actual author, has used dice rolling to make decisions for years, and some people have cultishly followed his lead and relinquished their lives to small cubes with painted dots. After reading the book, I asked George for an interview. The roll must have been a good one, because he said yes.

VICE: How did you begin living by the dice?
George Cockcroft: I was a great procrastinator as a teenager. I would make lists of things I was supposed to be doing and roll a die, and I found that it somehow got me off my ass. Then I began to experiment with things I should be doing, things I might do, and things I had never done before.  

Some people think you’ve started some kind of dice cult or religion.
Well, I wouldn’t call it a religion because that involves beliefs, and the whole point of dicing is to relinquish most of your beliefs. Some people call The Dice Man a “cult book,” but a cult book cannot have followers if the people who are “following” it can wake up at any day, roll a six, and decide they’re not going to follow it anymore!

If you had to guess, how many people rely on dice to make decisions?
There must be tens if not hundreds of thousands. Several people contacted me to say that they used dice to make decisions for years before ever hearing of my book.

Have you ever seen any dicers go crazy the way Luke does in the book?
I’ve never had anyone report anything violent or crazy in the way that Luke experiments in the book. I did have one fellow who was so unstable that I had to tell him, “You really need to stop dicing because it’s not doing you any good.”