Pontypool presents a “zombie” outbreak with a novel twist. The zombifying vector is a neurolinguistic or perhaps memetic “virus.” Some sort of infectious agent that hijacks certain previously innocuous English words, and when understood, begins overtaking the minds of its victims. As William S. Burroughs would have it: “The word is now a virus.”
Fantasy or weird fiction already presents a kind of malevolent Stendahl Syndrome in the pages of Chamber’s The King in Yellow, and Lovecraft’s Necronomicon. And of course, there’s also already the idea that words themselves have magical potency--Vancian Magic, anyone? Power Word Kill?
Perhaps magical formulae could get infected like the English language does in Pontypool.
Or perhaps something more has been lurking there all along. Maybe magical words or ideas are a virus or a living thing of some sort already. Maybe they don’t turn the user into a zombie or kill them, but maybe they have goals all their own.
Could it be that people who become magic-users are the ones that magical language or symbology can’t destroy or transform into some mindless creature? Or maybe they survive exposure, but all mages are driven a bit mad.
Maybe a they can “fire,” but they can never truly “forget.”
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