The multiverse as an internal salve is perhaps a new function. Where before the concept reflected new horizons brought by advances in technology, or warnings about the fragility of victory or political recklessness, one comfort of these contemporary narratives is confirmation that none of this is fixed. All we’d have to do is act, and we’d have, in essence, heralded a “new” dimension.
“How else do you notice the detail of your own life? I think that’s what great fiction does,” Day says. “Books or shows that engage with this question can really sharpen your eye to things that you might not have noticed — and those things are the best things about being a human being, I think.”
In August 2017, a video was uploaded to YouTube of a small flash mob assembled before Trump International Hotel in New York City. It’s during winter, or maybe spring; the trees are bare and the dancers are in coats. The group begins to perform the Five Movements featured in Netflix’s “The OA” — movements (choreographed by this dimension’s Ryan Heffington) that have the power to open a portal into another dimension.
“Would the power of the Five Movements work to protect us all from the darker forces at work in our country and the world?” the description wondered. We want to believe it could be that simple.
The research phase of “The OA” had a similar effect, as Marling and Batmanglij met and interviewed those who have survived brushes with death. “They have gone through something that the rest of us are just asking big questions about, living with a constant, unacknowledged terror at the fragility of our bodies,” she says. “They don’t seem to have that preoccupation, or the quiet fear that comes with it.”
Does great art have the power to replicate that crossing of the proverbial River Styx?
“What I have felt in my life from really great fiction is the sense that my vulnerability is not unique. That somebody else from the void is extending me a hand in solidarity. You don’t feel alone,” Marling says.
In the multiverse, we can die, in a broader, less weighted sense, leaving our known selves behind, so that we can really live. “Whether you’re using metaphor, or you’re using math, you’re just trying to articulate some sense of things,” she says.