David Milch Says, "See God Kai!"

It's not often that a popular television series attempts to grapple with trans-human, non-dual concepts. But David Milch's new series on HBO, John From Cincinnati, does just that.

Let's just toy with the idea that we are all one single living entity, lost inside a riddle of separateness. How could we fathom something seemingly outside of our limited experience?

Milch offers up a kooky drone by way of illustration, Johnny Monad, who seems to graciously manifest anything asked of him. No limits. People aren't so quick to see that, but they're catching on. Obviously, Monad's name implies the singularity that he represents, and every character is written as an autonomous limb of the same entity. Conceptually, this is not so foreign to Milch, who famously writes on a big screen alongside several other writers, as a group effort. So Milch's process is, in itself, an experiment in group mind.

[Caveat: When Kai does see God, I feel like the first-person omniscient POV it a bit of a let-down. Perhaps it just appears to be but is not. Why does this bum me out? Because consciousness needs to be embodied to have a point of view. I agree with Francisco Varella on that point.]

“I find that when I’m merely thinking about a scene I’m in an egoist state, which is the opposite of the state of being where you suppress the ego and go out in spirit to the characters. What writing should be is a going out in spirit. And my idea of storytelling is— I wouldn’t say it’s religious but I would say it’s spiritual…”
David Milch, New Yorker

The drama interweaves several other spiritual themes. Surfing, of course, has its cosmic resonance. But the family's dubious and brutal relationship with fame, that's what is really handled expertly. The ego loves to flattered, and the flattery is venom.

But there's more to it than that. Milch's writing is his yoga. Check it out—

“I spent a lot of fucking time studying these characters and trying to feel my way into them, and I feel that once you’ve done that sort of research and lived into your sense of the characters, the next essential step of the process is to suppress the self. The way that happens for me is that the only time I’ll think about the work is when I’m working. I won’t plan it out. My belief is: anything you’re thinking about when you’re not in the act of writing is probably useless.”
David Milch, New Yorker

posted by
Spiros Antonopoulos

TAGS — David Milch, ego, egolessness, HBO, monad, nondual, television


4 total remarks for this post. Add your own remarks below.

Mon 02 Jul 2007 at 10:55AM

Jesse Gordon

Milch is incredible. I've interviewed him a few times for various HBO projects and have found that excerpting him is tricky -- even an hour conversation with him evolves towards having a beginning, middle and end, with all utterances in between of fractal importance! Here is a link to a more "unplugged" interview:
And here's hoping that "John ..." survives network pragmatism and goes more than one season!

Mon 02 Jul 2007 at 01:17PM

Spiros Antonopoulos

Whoa... Great link. Thanks... I'd love to speak with that guy! Is Alix Lambert your pseudonym?

Thu 05 Jul 2007 at 06:18PM


hey spiros

another excellent article. souljerky continues to bring the goods......
you know i was i big time 'deadwood', i might just have to get cable again for this new milch series.
BTW..is he referring to russell KAI?

Fri 17 Aug 2007 at 10:01AM

Jesse Gordon

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