‘Silent Snow, Secret Snow’ by Conrad Aiken, read by Jon Padgett

Greetings from the cyber-silence, Teeming Brain readers. As you may have noticed, this site has been on a long pause — unplanned and unannounced — for about four months now. A number of factors piled up to bring this about, including the necessity for me to devote all of my spare time to fulfilling the main portion of my editor’s duties in bringing together Ghosts, Spirits, and Psychics: The Paranormal from Alchemy to Zombies (a project that I’ll say more about in coming weeks). But now the mega-wave of busyness is starting to subside, and there is time once again for the brain to teem.

I have quite a few items lined up for publication here in coming weeks, including my long-in-coming conversation with Dr. James Fadiman, the final installment of Dominik Irtenkauf’s “Sounds of Apocalypse” article series, a new installment of Stuart Young’s column Sparking Neurones (this one about an interesting angle on Captain America), and a whole slew of links to worthwhile items of interest that have come across the transom during the hiatus.

For now, I’d like to direct your attention to the above just-published audio reading of Conrad Aiken’s classic and wonderful short story “Silent Snow, Secret Snow,” about a boy who becomes progressively more lost in the blissful isolation of an inner world or otherworld of spectral snowfall, until his disappearance is complete. The reader is my good friend Jon Padgett, who has been acting and performing in various creative capacities for many years, and his performance here is simply exquisite. The opening and closing music is composed and performed by me, specifically for the purpose of accompanying this story. I hope you find the whole presentation as enjoyable and deeply emotionally affecting as I do. There’s a downloadable version of the audio file at Thomas Ligotti Online (which Jon founded nearly two decades ago).

About Matt Cardin

Teeming Brain founder and editor Matt Cardin is the author of DARK AWAKENINGS, DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP, A COURSE IN DEMONIC CREATIVITY: A WRITER'S GUIDE TO THE INNER GENIUS, and the forthcoming TO ROUSE LEVIATHAN. He is also the editor of BORN TO FEAR: INTERVIEWS WITH THOMAS LIGOTTI and the academic encyclopedias MUMMIES AROUND THE WORLD and GHOSTS, SPIRITS, AND PSYCHICS: THE PARANORMAL FROM ALCHEMY TO ZOMBIES.

Posted on November 11, 2014, in Arts & Entertainment and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Thanks so much, Matt. Your music integrated with the story so beautifully.

    I can’t express how much Aiken’s story means to me. I’ve heard and read multiple, psychological interpretations of it — the typical ones highlighting mental illness, usually schizophrenia. But I see it at once more broadly and more intimately than that. As a child–for as far back as I can remember–I had a great longing to live in an inner, magical world wholly superior to my mortal, mundane existence. Aiken’s story strikes me as wish fulfillment more than anything else, and he captures the protagonist’s growing sense of anticipation–both its euphoria and its horror–perfectly. There’s no doubt a tragic element, especially when interpreted psychologically, but I can’t help seeing things from Paul’s point of view. He made it. He is consumed and, simultaneously, he is free.

    On a side note, my spouse’s uncle bought and lived for many years in the house Conrad Aiken grew up in as a child. It’s a colonial house in Savannah, Georgia which may be the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen. When Aiken was eleven, his father murdered his wife and immediately killed himself. Aiken heard the fatal shots and found the bodies of his parents in the aforementioned house. I’m sure his wish to be consumed by another world was more acute than I could possibly imagine.

    • I bounce your thanks back to you, Jon, for the fine reading. And also for the info about Aiken. Somehow I had never heard that before. What a sad and striking story, and what an interesting closeness to Aiken in your uncle-in-law’s ownership of that house.

      My own emotions resonate with what you say about the subjective euphoria Paul experiences in his “escape.” I think a lot of sensitive people with an appreciation for literature — the type of people who would find this story to be affecting, in fact — can probably identify with this. Part of the genius of Aiken’s story is the irony of the contrast between the outward horror of the boy’s situation and the inward bliss that he actually experiences.

  2. I’ve bantered online about spectral snowfall and Montreal’s natural Quaker other-wordliness . Definitely gets me going… when I think of Montreal now that I have grown up and can look at it askance I imagine homes with chimneys and snowy scenic paintings . Very sparkly . Sparkly to the point of absurdity . Numinous to the point of silliness. North America’s most haunted city ( http://cultmontreal.com/2014/10/haunted-montreal/ )

  3. Matt! I’m so happy to see you back online again!
    I was wondering what you were up to. LOL

    Your friend has a wonderful reading voice and the music was just perfect! thank you both for this gift.

  4. Matt, so good to see you back. I missed this kind of stuff.

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