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Jabez L. Van Cleef

Jabez L. Van Cleef is a writer who has made his works available as free audiobooks. His recordings mix spiritual stories with poetry and music.

All Is Beautiful: The Navajo Creation Story

Since the beginning of time, human beings have told the story of their own beginning, and of the origins of the four directions, the heavens,the God-People, the earth, and all its creatures. The Navajo People tell a story of great psychological power and depth.

First recorded by 19th century ethnographers, the Navajo Creation story is here interpreted as an epic-length poem.

The Birth of Propaganda is poetic adaptation of the essay Propaganda in a Democratic Society by Aldous Huxley, which expresses his warnings about the manipulation of language by totalitarian governments and corporations.

The Sami, who call themselves “the real people,” are nomadic indigenous people of Northern Scandinavia and adjacent areas of Russia. They practice an animistic religion which invests godlike qualities in animals such as the fox and the bear, and in certain features of the landscape. They believe that the sun (male) and the earth (female) mated to make a son, who then found a bride and fathered human beings. The earth and sun share our daily experience of living, as do all plant and animal creatures.

This form of dynamic interdependence has been expressed over time in a wealth of songs and stories told by Sami shamans and wizards. The stories are characterized by great reverence for our natural environment, which can form a strong spiritual foundation for sustainable living.

The Palimpsest of Human Rights is an experimental spoken word production which combines verse interpretations of the prose writings of Martin Luther King, Mohandas Gandhi, and Henry Thoreau. The influence of new, temporally-bound ideas on succeeding generations is revealed in a continuous discourse.

The physical idea of a palimpsest (writing over the top of an existing text in a manuscript) is here extended to an aural experience. When the texts are read aloud, one over the top of another, the sound preserves some part of the utterance of each original, while concealing some part of the others. Just as the mind of a reader would struggle to decipher what is underneath a superimposed handwriting, the ear of the listener works harder to discern the meaning of the intentionally obscured speech.

The author has adapted prose source materials into a common format by paraphrasing the text into metered lines (iambic pentameter). In a process called text weaving he creates a long poem in which the successive lines are bound rhythmically, but not always by meaning. In each stanza of the printed book, the first line is from Thoreau, the second line from Gandhi, and the third line from King.

In this collection of songs there will be found examples which illustrate nearly every aspect of Kabir's thought, and all the fluctuations of the mystic's emotion: the ecstasy, the despair, the still beatitude, the eager self-devotion, the flashes of wide illumination, the moments of intimate love. All opposites are reconciled: bondage and liberty, love and renunciation, pleasure and pain. Unity is the one thing that matters to the soul, its destiny and its need; and this union, this discovery of God, is the simplest and most natural of all things, if we would but grasp it. It is brought about by love, not by knowledge or ceremonial observances; and the apprehension which that union confers is ineffable–“neither This nor That,” as the poet has it. The Divine may best be found in the here-and-now: in the normal, human, bodily existence, the “mud” of material life. “We can reach the goal without crossing the road – In the home is reality.” There love and detachment, bondage and freedom, joy and pain play by turns upon the soul; and it is from their conflict that the Unstruck Music of the Infinite proceeds.

  • Last modified: 2012/10/21 14:54