Fear of Maths
I just ran into a curious, short article on the pages of Math Horizons (a magazine of popular mathematics) titled ‘H.P. Lovecraft: a Horror in Higher Dimensions’, where the author argues that Lovecraft was reasonably well versed in the mathematics and physics of his time, and underlines how often he employs a vocabulary borrowed from/inspired by non-Eulidian geometry. Indeed, it’s precisely in Lovecraft that I first read this term and I still remember going to look for it on the Encyclopaedia (times before the internet). Funny at that age his weaving together of made-up mythology and real stuff really gets in your head: I think for a while I was quite convinced that the Necronomicon was a real book…
Anyway, a small excerpt from the article.
On the one hand, math concepts are used to describe the indescribable — to attempt to convey, in as concrete a manner as possible, a sense of the alien and the unknown in the reader. On the other hand, we see that mathematics is clearly one of the keys to understanding secrets of the universe, a universe which would drive one babbling mad if only a fraction of it were clearly comprehended. After all, most of the population is terrified and intimidated by math, yet most people also recognize the power of mathematics. What better logical support is there for inspiring a mood of terror and the unknown?
Math Horizons is subscription-only but I’m sure you’ll find a way to download it.