This week I revieved my electoral registration form, as you can see from the picture. I’ll fill it in and send it away because I’m interested in politics and acknowledge its power, while increadibly frustrated as to how it is conducted. So in the spirit of constructive criticism, I’ve decided to start my own alternative party called The First Jedi Party.
10 Reasons Why Northern Ireland Needs A New Political Party
I want to promote my book, which is called, by no coincidence, The First Jedi. It ‘s a novel set in Northern Ireland, and is part autobiography, part training manual, part sci-fi fable, all mind-trick!
I want to satirize the political beliefs of many people in Northern Ireland, who assert the existence of entities that are just as fictional as anything in Star Wars. For instance, belief in the ‘real Irish people ‘ and the ‘glorious British empire ‘ are as mythical in nature as the the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire.
I want to give people at home and abroad a brief reason to smile when discussing Northern Irish politics rather than resort to the usual groans. The entertainment of ‘frivilous politics ‘ offers temporary relief from the tired old debates and debacles that arise with cyclic predictability, filling us with apathy or antagonism, leading nowhere.
I want to allow those who categorise their beliefs as Jedi to have a form of political expression and representation. In the early twenty-first century, during national population censuses, significant numbers of people in the UK and Ireland designated themselves as ‘Jedi ‘ or ‘Jedi Knights ‘ for fun and in protest, like me.
I want to introduce an element of playfulness and a lusary attitude into an arena that takes itself, its work and its mission with messianic seriousness. Politicians as a class should not constitute the most famous celebs in Northern Ireland, neither is it healthy that we should look to them or their state to solve our core problems.
I want to prove that it is possible to create a political position to suit personal beliefs, however whimsical, rather than accept old impositions that other people created for their own benefit. People long dead formed our current political discourse according to their own designs, which we the living, must outgrow and rethink for our radically different world.
I want to experiment with the ability of science fiction to help us think about many themes relevant to Northern Irish politics. Science fiction can act as as a device in which diverse peoples can discuss relevant issues of identity, morality, political structures and possiblity futures, all at a safe distance.
I want to release in young people particularly the Force of questions and imagination when it comes to constructing their political ideals. I want to teach them to ask, Why do I still hold the political beliefs in which I was raised? If I wasn ‘t born in this country, this age, what political issues would move me? What sort of new politics would I hope to see in the future?
I want to promote certain values and techniques that I classify as ‘Jedi ‘ and that I believe could play a part in societal progress here. For example, ethical ‘balance ‘ counteracts extremist rhetoric, psychological ‘mindfulness ‘ enables the acceptance of multiple perspectives, and emotional ‘detachment ‘ frees from habitual reactions.
I want to protect the younglings of Northern Ireland from local Sith cults, who I know are infecting the land at the moment. My intelligence sources tell me that a local Sith lord is currently drawing up a manifesto called The Second Sith and is searching for an Apprentice to consolidate his already growing power-base here. He must not succeed!
The First Jedi, my first novel, has just been published in both paperback and Kindle formats. But, why would you want to read it? Read on.
To my knowledge, it ‘s the only SW novel written that is set in this present universe, at our present time. If I ‘m wrong about this, please correct me. If I ‘m right, this fact makes it kind of unique. No more galaxies far, far away; the Jedi have come to town.
It ‘s a piece of adult writing. Now calm down, I don ‘t mean erotic. I mean that the language employed and issues explored are not fit fare for the kids that read the comics and watch the cartoons. Yes, I know that some adults enjoy these media too. I doubt, however, that children need exposure to suicide, alcoholism, therapy, depression and some of the other topics I touch on here.
Although I call The First Jedi a novel, there ‘s a bit more to it than that. A large part of it is autobiographical and covers real(ish) events that happened to me in 2008/9. I ‘ve provided as much proof of these events in the endnotes as possible. They centre round a university course that I designed and delivered about Star Wars, the nuclear explosion of publicity that ensued, and the subsequent toxic fallout.
I ‘m a professional development consultant by trade. The course content consisted of my attempts to tease out lessons on applied psychology and ethics from the Star Wars scripts. Parts of the novel grapple with this intersection between real science and sci-fi mythology.
The heart of the novel gives an account of this course from a fictional outsider ‘s viewpoint and how his messed-up life was altered by it, although not necessarily for the better. My greatest pleasure when writing it was watching the character of this antagonist, my nemesis Mark Gil-martin Black take shape. Baddies have more fun; baddies are more fun.
I ‘ve had a bit of fun with the novel too in creating weird chapter titles and sprinkling obscure references throughout. Sometimes reading a novel or self-help book can prove a very passive affair. What better way to spice it up and activate the brain than to offer a little bit of mystery along the way?
The different sources I ‘ve employed in the novel, often without much in the way of explanation, are supposed to add to this sense of puzzle. Does this epistolary format add to the aura of factuality? Or am I an unreliable narrator? What is real here and what is make-believe; serious or playful? And, in a novel about Star Wars, can there be a difference?
Once you start to read The First Jedi, forever will it dominate your destiny. Click The First Jedi to view and purchase it.
Last Thursday I was casually informed by a (very pleasant and professional) Press Officer of Queen’s University that UTV Life wanted me on Friday. It was to involve a ‘sofa chat’ with local presenter Frank Mitchell. Although it was my course on Jedi Training that sparked off their interest in me, the context was the big ‘Knights of the Empire’ event at the Odyssey at the weekend.
Apart from their use as a double-handed thing hitter, a lightsaber and a cricket bat don’t seem to have too much in common.
But that’s where you’re wrong. For the skillful wielding of both, it is mind rather than muscle that wins the day. You will learn all about this at our Jedi Knight Training Event in October, where experts will instruct you on the proper use of the samurai sword and the flash of lightsaber duels will electrify the afternoon air.
Dismayed at the male/female breakdown of some of the personal development type workshops I run at QUB, I was thinking something along the lines of… Young men are not so interested in personal development, what might prick their ears..? Aha! Name the course after a Star Wars theme! The ideas and techniques are similar, so that might make them think… Continue reading “Feel the Force: How to Train in the Jedi Way”
More Jedi news –eight police officers serving with Scotland’s largest force listed their official religion as Jedi in voluntary diversity forms. All this after some guy taught the UK’s first Jedi course at Queen’s University, Belfast.
On December 9th (Belfast) and 10th (Dublin) I spoke at the Christmas Event of the Institute of Internal Auditors(Irish District Society). It was an exciting and challenging experience, since I’ve never done anything quite like it before. But the feedback from both events was excellent, with participants sending me emails of appreciation and request for more information.
Like the title of this blog, the presentation was called Star Wars Goes to Work. My subtitle sheds a bit more light on the content: How to Use Jedi Mind-Tricks in Your Job to Get Your Way, Become Indispensable, and Stay Sane. In it I offered tasters on topic like assertiveness and empathy at work ( how to get your way ), creativity and concentration ( how to become indispensable ), and emotional self-care and control ( how to stay sane ). Continue reading “Star Wars Goes To Work”
Once the publicity for the Jedi workshop started to skyrocket (or is it skywalk?) I got asked a particular question over and over again. Even if it wasn’t asked explicity, I could see it in people’s smirking eyes, and feel it in draft left by their open mouths.
“You don’t think all this Jedi stuff is really real, do you?”
It’s not as silly a question as it first sounds. After all, there are people out there who take this Jedi thing very seriously. Some have built the beginnings of a religion around it. Others talk earnestly of trying to live out ‘the Jedi way’ and of their temptations toward ‘the dark side’. Continue reading “Jedi Knights – Myth and Reality”
Last Saturday (15th November) I delivered my long-anticipated university workshop on Star Wars called Feel the Force: How to Train in the Jedi Way. There was an excellent turn-out (over 30 apprentices from all ages, genders and species) with fabulous feedback. We had a great time together; lots of humour, lots of discussion, plenty of new ideas to ponder, students left hungry for more. All a training session should be.
Five interesting things came out of it:
(1) People from different employment sectors enquired if I could provide business training for them based on the workshop. Some wanted the Star Wars link, other were keen on the fact that I made standard training topics – Assertiveness, Emotional Intelligence, Ethics – interesting. I didn’t foresee this (so maybe I’m not much of a Jedi), but it’s an exciting development. I’m due to give a couple of Jedi-themed corporate talks in December for the Institute of Internal Auditors (in Belfast and Dublin). May the Force be with them!
Interest in my Jedi ‘university workshop’ has, I think, climaxed. I’ve mentioned that I was interviewed on ABC Radio in Oz. The latest is an interview on Danish Radio Station DR, who were pretty into it.
So it was comforting to learn that I’m not the only wacko innovative, lateral-thinking teacher around. Professor Richard Wiseman has told the British Association Science Festival that teaching magic tricks helps pupils perform better. They learn a cluster of social skills – like empathy, confidence, and social intelligence – that are otherwise difficult to teach.
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