Last weekend I made a trip down to my favourite little geek store in town, Forbidden Planet, where they were celebrating local comic book store day and the launch of Justice League. To mark these little nerdy holidays, the store had managed to book in some very exciting talent to do some book signings at their store, and I managed to bag myself a few minutes with one of them.
Daniel M. Jones is the author of the new title, Become the Force: 9 Lessons on How to Live as a Jediist Master, released just over a week ago. Now, I’m certain that any nerd out will recognise that the title of this book is related to the Star Wars franchise. But you see, Daniel is more than just a fan of the series. He is the founder of Jediism, a philosophical and religious movement.
The man himself, Daniel M. Jones. Check out his YouTube channel
Perhaps you may be thinking that a leader of a community of this manner would be very intense to interview, but Daniel is quite the opposite. He’s a laid-back and down-to-earth type of guy, who simply wishes to spread a message of tolerance, acceptance and creativity amongst the public. I thoroughly enjoy spending time with him and learning more about his work.
I also want to send my thanks to my friends over at Forbidden Planet for having me back, and providing me with a lovely goody bag of comic schwag for the event. This signing was just one of many that they hold in their London HQ, and if you want to know more about the exciting guest stars that are paying a visit, take a look at their events page here.
Now I could keep on waffling on, but I think it would be better to hear from our interviewee himself, don’t you?
Can you sum up, for those who haven’t heard yet, what Become the Force is about?
The book is the story, ideology and principles of Jediism, which is the philosophy based on Star Wars and the Jedi in that universe. But the book also goes over a bit about my background and how the whole thing came to be, detailing the nine lessons of philosophical living, mindfulness, meditation and all the things that the Jedi do in the universe that can be applied in reality. It also covers the theory of what ‘The Force’ is. Obviously in the Star Wars universe you hear about it, but you don’t get an in-depth feel of what it really is. There’s also more about the supernatural life, energy, chi and types of things like that, which is quite interesting. So that’s all of it in a nutshell.
I suppose putting this book out makes all the information about Jediism more accessible?
That was the idea. The problem with having stuff online is that it ends up getting super messy. When you have PDF’s in one place and videos in another, it doesn’t all come together and flow nicely. But with a book, you can read it start to finish and have this timeline of how Jediism started, the training in between and eventually the conclusion. I think that by reading the whole book people are fully digesting all the details. The other thing about putting this information in bookshops is that it reaches people who wouldn’t have normally stumbled across it online. So I think that’s quite interesting.
The gorgeous merch table set up at Forbidden Planet
What would you like to achieve or accomplish with this book?
The idea of the book is to get people educated about what I'm doing and what it’s all about, because a lot of the information about me probably varies on the internet. It will also appeal to different types of readers, from Star Wars fans to people who are just interested in Philosophy and those esoteric religious in general. But the overall succession of the book should get people just excited about life. Maybe that sounds like a bit of a weird conclusion, but it really is to get people stoked about being being creative and to embrace themselves in a way that they can go and do cool, individual things and have a self-understanding. In the Star Wars universe, the Jedi know exactly who they are. They explore themselves. So even if this books makes just one person say, “Wow, this has just changed how I see things in life and I feel way happier that I used to”, then it has done it’s job.
That’s interesting, because I’ve definitely found that since being a part of the geek culture that many people develop their interests in isolation. I suppose this lifestyle is a way of overcoming that?
Yeah definitely. Fan bases in general hang out online and talk in forums, but this means that the communities are always based on escapism. For example, with something like World of Warcraft or Dungeons and Dragons, you are becoming someone else and stepping outside of the realms of reality. But Jediism is bringing something from the science fiction background into actual life, and people can feel like they are a part of a community that is real. I’ve always felt like being a part of a fan group is just that, it’s being a fan. But being a part of something that is physical and has actual practice involved, with inspiration from Buddhism, is bridging that gap between sci-fi and reality.
Author signing in progress. Photo credit goes to Watkins Publishing
What are some of your career highlights, or memorable moments?
Oh god, there’s so many! The team over at Graham Norton asked me to do a show with Carrie Fisher when The Force Awakens came out. That was such a cool moment, to be actually asked to appear alongside her. We didn’t actually end up getting to do it in the end, as things fell through, but just them reaching out was so cool.
The last thing I’ll say is that Warwick Davis was filming a new TV show, and he phoned me up and asked me to come over and work with him. One of the most surreal experiences of my life was being in my parent’s garden, dressed as a Jedi, jumping over Warwick Davies who was charging towards me, also dressed up. Completely weird. But Warwick is one of the nicest guys ever, and he’s stayed in contact. We’ve given each other work and hung out at Wales Comic Con, where my band (Straight Jacket Legends) were actually asked to perform at the after-show party. Whatever I do always seems to reach some bizarre places and I think most of them are really fun and enjoyable.
Obviously we can’t go without mentioning The Last Jedi. What are your thoughts for the new film?
I’m honestly really apprehensive. I’m actually doing a review for it for Radio Times this year, and I’m really interested to see what Luke is saying about “The Jedi must end”, because obviously the film title is ambiguous. It could be what we are expecting, or it could be going in another direction. But I am still super excited about it, as it’s being released around Christmas time, which I get giddy about anyway. Plus it has the midnight release, so everyone will be stoked about it. My cousin is coming with me this time and we’ll see it together, and be surrounded by all these other super nerds, there is something fun about that.
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