Dark Magic: H.P. Lovecraft, Starry Wisdom, and the Contagion of Fear

The writings of the celebrated American author of weird fiction H. P. Lovecraft are known for their groundbreaking innovation, particularly their treatment of ‘the other’ or otherness, incepting a palpable state of alienation in the reader. A recurring feature of his stories is an unseen or obscure entity emanating psychic malfeasance, precipitating fear, paranoia and ultimately a collapse of mental order. This emanative quality, though originating in the medium of fiction, is nonetheless transmissible from mind to mind and beyond. Dark Magic explores the contagious qualities of Lovecraft’s tales, with their embedded sense of dread and their dismantling of human reason, and how they have propagated in the near century after his death, influencing literature, art, pop culture and the occult revival. In perhaps the most immediate example, the infectious qualities of Lovecraft’s ideas are seen to parallel virology, mass infection, and the fraying state of the human psyche during times of pandemic.