TV

Revealed: the truth behind Netflix’s The OA

Still don’t quite get Netflix’s trippy series The OA and the whole life after death jazz? Us neither, which is why we turned to Dr Penny Sartori, a lecturer on Near-Death Experiences (NDEs), for all the facts behind the uber-weird shit that went down in the show.

The Science

“An NDE is a subjective experience by someone who has had a close brush with death. Some may have an out-of-body experience, others meet dead relatives or friends. Often the figure sends them back to life, saying, ‘It’s not your time.’ Some literally relive the whole of their life in a matter of seconds. Others describe being dragged into Hell by demons; falling through a black void. But it’s all culturally influenced, depending where the person is from.”

The Special Powers

“I once met an Arabic woman named Raja who had an NDE during an operation in hospital and came back with a deep understanding of quantum physics. She was able to write papers on things that even established professors couldn’t understand, having never studied it before. There was no way she could’ve plagiarised them – they were too complex. Others come back with language fluency or perfect pitch.”

The ‘where do they go?’ part

“I don’t believe that we enter a parallel existence. The brain creates consciousness through neurological processes. Our brain is a filter – a receiver of consciousness rather than a producer of it. When we come close to death that filter action relaxes, allowing this altered state of perception.”

The interpretive dance thing

“Shamans all over the world dance and chant to access an alternative mental state. The show could be trying to emulate something like that. Collectively, when all of the tribe do it, it can have a very powerful effect and facilitate a profound collective alternate consciousness.”

Interview by Matt Blake