Since watching the last episode “Full Circle” last night, I’ve been trying to find words to do justice to Lovecraft Country, HBO’s horror, Sci-Fi- Magic fest, which is firmly set within America’s Black historic struggle. Instead, I’m undone after a sleepless night roaming the underworld of the US, aware its current election and political dystopia, with its far-reaching noxious tentacles, is actually the sequel of Lovecraft’s 1950s.
Being undone is the agenda of our times. The US is currently being dismembered by the pervasive sulfuric fumes from the horror of America’s ancestral coding of white supremacy and black trauma. The devil’s bargain of Black enslavement, landing on the Eastern shores of Turtle Island (Virginia) in 1619, is now the toxic overwhelm washing up on the shores of our collective karmic reckoning.
Words still don’t come easy, and I’m mindful of them pulling up and away from this necessary undoing through their abstracted descriptions, placating, and attempted solutions. However clearly words describe, they do not reach far enough into our subconscious coding, which is why Lovecraft is actually so very brilliant. It conveys an imaginal, somatic transmission of America’s undigested racial violence and trauma. In doing so, it intends to generate more considerable magic than the spells its characters cast within the story.
Lovecraft’s power is in its use of liminal transmission to break the spell of racist coding by viscerally taking us into its incestuously raped, bloodthirsty, horror-filled heart. It’s a hard, unnerving watch because it loads a full armory with its archetypal, wildly potent metaphor and aims its terror at the heart of white psychosis.
As someone in a white body, the impact is primal. This undoing is a journey into dislodged cellular energetic holding, a vulnerable, wobbly disorientation, and a wave of un-named grief that can’t be cried out. It’s a waking night filled with demons and an entering into how this viral download of “whiteness” lives afloat in a partitioned, monochrome picture frame, oblivious of the unleashed roaming fear beasts that keep control.
The monsters in Lovecraft very well depict the unavoidable disease of ancestral trauma that continually re-infects through the subliminal coding of extreme fear, made visible in the relentless sinister threat and sadistic violence used by Lovecraft’s keepers of segregation.
The practice of satanic occultism by White power, a primary Lovecraft theme, is not as fictional as it first appears. It tells us that white supremacy itself is a form of occult shadow magic, honed through intent, focus, and incanted generational memes that hold enormous enduring power. In the end, the fear, violence, and psychosis infect everyone. This is obvious in the full-blown disaster of Trumpian America, itself a vicious diseased beast that knows no holding.
If Lovecraft tells much about psychopathic whiteness, it also speaks of the fierce courage and generational heroism threaded through Black struggle. The scene in the first episode of the heroine running through a monster-filled forest at night to bring help replicates the terror of the Underground Railroad’s escaping slaves. The courage is enormous. We also see the power of Black ancestors and shamans, as they interact with their living descendants bringing much welcomed sanity, wisdom and protection.
The Black struggle, however, is not without casualties. While not always directly caused by white people, harm is still at the hands of systemic oppression. Lovecraft deftly brings in the theme of homophobia and its internalized violence alongside toxic masculinity with its generational violence. It also paints a nuanced picture of the victim-perpetrator complexity threaded through most of its relationships, which saves Lovecraft from becoming overly simplistic and formulaic. Instead, it offers glimpses into how all are ultimately caught in a larger demonic shape that at its core is violent and degrading.
Nether-the-less, in Lovecraft’s Country, we root for the brave Black heroes and want the ever seeming upper hand of white supremacy, and the terror it unleashes, to be thoroughly undone. To this end, the one vital, central message within Lovecraft is that if there’s a code for white supremacy, then there’s also a code for its undoing.
Like any oppressive system, white supremacy can be hacked and inverted. In Lovecraft’s Country, there is magic for this to be found in the ancestors’ keep and through holding faith that the evil spell of racism can be broken. But the real magic rests ultimately in the human heart’s capacity for love, and it’s the willingness to sacrifice for those who are loved.
This final courage is demonstrated by not running but instead turning to meet the whole coded racist gestalt, in all its complex and terrifying guises. This last act is needed to transmute that raw scream of terror into a code-breaking incantation that dispels the trance. An incantation in our present time that speaks out words in our daylight life, like, “Black Lives Matter.”
Ultimately, Lovecraft Country makes perfect theatre for the times. It doesn’t always take words to understand where we are, and to know that past injustices have brought us here. It is this deeper knowing that ripples into core truths. Lovecraft just underlines this knowing by cracking through the veneer of US normality to let us see why this moment in American history is precisely the way it is. It is in this seeing that the call to reparation lay.
We may not be able to fully crack the codes of oppression, but we stand a better chance of doing so when, as Lovecraft inducts us into, we are willing to be taken through a journey that makes the unconscious conscious.