Eleven Thousand Virgins: Hildegard von Bingen's Last Chants by Alan C. Baird - Read Online
Eleven Thousand Virgins
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Synopsis: Alex Barnett has a comfortable life in Los Angeles and San Francisco; it's probably too comfortable, although he can't quite admit to himself that an extended separation from his wife Nicole eats at his soul. An unusual set of seemingly unrelated circumstances impels him to seek out a centuries-abandoned monastery in southwest Germany, where he confronts the animate image of Hildegard von Bingen, the legendary twelfth-century mystic, prophet, and composer of ravishing liturgical chants. Although his friend Lars believes it's a bona-fide vision, much like the visions that fueled Hildegard's own creativity, Alex cynically distrusts his deepest instincts and drives himself to search for a more acceptable answer. His quest guides him on the path toward self-awareness, through experiences both sacred and profane. One man's inner and outer pilgrimages take him to the depths of uncertainty, and, almost inexorably, to the peak of actualization.

Background: Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179 AD) composed many chants in honor of Saint Ursula (?-383 AD). According to legend, Ursula was a Romano-British princess who, at the request of her father, King Donaut of Dumnonia (SW England), set sail across the English Channel with 11,000 virginal handmaidens to join her future husband, the pagan Governor Conan Meriadoc of Armorica (Brittany). Before the princess could arrive, all the virgins were beheaded in a massacre, and Ursula was shot dead. Modern research suggests the phrase "XI. M. V." was misinterpreted as "eleven thousand (in Roman numerals) virgins" rather than "eleven martyred virgins."

Genre: Spiritual drama. Warning: sexual situations and language.

Semifinalist in: Writers Network competition.

Published: Alan C. Baird on
ISBN: 9781522731795
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    Eleven Thousand Virgins: Hildegard von Bingen's Last Chants

    By Alan C. Baird

    Copyright 2015 Alan C. Baird

    ISBN 1522731792 and 9781522731795

    Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copies from their favorite authorized retailers. Thanks for your support!

    Cover image: Werk Gottes (Work of God) (depiction of a spherical Earth with the four seasons) in the 12th-century book Liber Divinorum Operum (The Book of Divine Works) by Hildegard of Bingen.

    Screenplay log line: Field of Dreams with medieval chant music in place of baseball.

    Synopsis: Alex Barnett has a comfortable life in Los Angeles and San Francisco; it's probably too comfortable, although he can't quite admit to himself that an extended separation from his wife Nicole eats at his soul. An unusual set of seemingly unrelated circumstances impels him to seek out a centuries-abandoned monastery in southwest Germany, where he confronts the animate image of Hildegard von Bingen, the legendary twelfth-century mystic, prophet, and composer of ravishing liturgical chants. Although his friend Lars believes it's a bona-fide vision, much like the visions that fueled Hildegard's own creativity, Alex cynically distrusts his deepest instincts and drives himself to search for a more acceptable answer. His quest guides him on the path toward self-awareness, through experiences both sacred and profane. One man's inner and outer pilgrimages take him to the depths of uncertainty, and, almost inexorably, to the peak of actualization.

    Background: Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179 AD) composed many chants in honor of Saint Ursula (?-383 AD). According to legend, Ursula was a Romano-British princess who, at the request of her father, King Donaut of Dumnonia (SW England), set sail across the English Channel with 11,000 virginal handmaidens to join her future husband, the pagan Governor Conan Meriadoc of Armorica (Brittany). Before the princess could arrive, all the virgins were beheaded in a massacre, and Ursula was shot dead. Modern research suggests the phrase XI. M. V. was misinterpreted as eleven thousand (in Roman numerals) virgins rather than eleven martyred virgins.

    Genre: Spiritual drama. Warning: sexual situations and language.

    Semifinalist in: Writers Network competition.

    Find Eleven Thousand Virgins on Facebook: http://facebook.com/11000v

    Hildegard von Bingen Discography (80+ CDs): http://9TimeZones.com/ia/ghildgrd.htm

    ToC Bookmarks:

    DOMAINE CHANDON RESTAURANT, NAPA

    DISIBODENBERG MONASTERY

    HSI LAI BUDDHIST TEMPLE, L.A.

    GHIRARDELLI SQUARE, SAN FRANCISCO

    BLACK SCREEN...

    ...until a small gas flame ignites from the side of the screen and burns in a curving arc upward toward the top. It's hot blue on the underside of the curve, shading away to yellow in the vertical portion. Simultaneously, an unworldly, hypnotic MUSIC surrounds the senses - it's a combination of ancient instruments, designed during the Middle Ages, and modern electronic synthesizers. In a THX theatre, the foreboding bass line of this music will leave the breastbone vibrating. Eventually, an ethereal woman's voice will float in, as if on the wings of angels. But for now, the flame dips to light a candle in a contemporary holder, then moves slightly to light an incense stick. Methodically, other candle wicks blaze to life as the flame caresses them.

    INT. ALEX BARNETT'S LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

    As candles in different holders start to provide sufficient light, the source of the flame becomes visible - it's a small gun-like tool, sometimes used for igniting barbecue briquets. It has a five-inch squared-off barrel, and a trigger for starting the flame, with a thicker in line handle which conceals a small butane reservoir. The candles are various shapes and sizes; some are only a handsbreadth in length and are enclosed in colored glass, much like votive candles. The effect of the music is powerful enough to give the feeling of a monastery, which is something of a paradox, because the gradual lessening of the darkness is revealing quite modern furnishings, with eclectic details from several styles. Art Deco picture frames highlight the work of an obviously accomplished photographer, a sculpted Corinthian pillar supports a museum-quality Danish stereo loudspeaker, and a tiny, delicate Japanese netsuke carving has been pushed aside to make way for candles on a black enamel coffee table. The lighted bouncing columns of the stereo's graphic display reflect the shift in the lower DRONE of the electronic instruments giving way to the higher register of the angelic, clear-toned SOPRANO. The words are in Latin, and the author of this spiritual music is none other than the twelfth-century mystic, Hildegard von Bingen. The electronic synthesizers blend into the background, but still provide a strong contrast to the female plainchant and the ancient instruments.

    The dark-cowled figure who's been wielding the small flame gun moves to sit in the lotus posture on the floor behind the coffee table. The cowl is part of a terrycloth bathrobe, and as it falls away, ALEX BARNETT's wet hair is revealed. He's a handsome, dynamic man in his early forties, and tears are rolling down his face unchecked. His fingers sway almost imperceptibly in time with the music, and it's clear that the music has moved him deeply. After a few seconds, he looks up and gently draws the sleeve of his bathrobe across his cheek to blot the tears.

    ALEX'S P.O.V.

    TIFFANY, in her early twenties, is standing at the living room entrance. She's slightly tousled, and is a spectacular specimen of young womanhood. We are in an excellent position to make this judgment, seeing as she's wearing only a smile.

    TIFFANY: Round two, anyone?

    She's too far away to notice the tears Alex has just wiped away, but his disgusted expression is plain for anyone to see.

    ALEX (frosty): I think it's time we called it a night, Tiffany.

    She's not giving up so easily - with a pout, and the confidence of one who has never been denied her slightest whim, she saunters to the CD turntable mounted vertically against the far wall. As her hand approaches the glass doors, they slide open automatically, the MUSIC cuts off abruptly, and the golden disc spins to a stop. She takes it out, frisbees it casually across the rug, and starts to flip through a zig-zag chrome shelf of discs mounted above the turntable.

    TIFFANY (she knows best): Alex. (helpful) You got Bolero here someplace, don'tcha?

    Alex's movements are a blur. He gracefully scoops up the disc on the