Monday, July 14, 2008

Joe Firmage Interview: Living Life Out Loud

(Originally published in one of my rags, HUMP Megazine)

Welcome Dear Humpers, welcome. Over the last two years I have attempted to take you into the minds of some of the most creative and influential folks of the 20th century. I feel that we are on the edge of great changes, and my pursuit of new knowledge is an attempt to prepare us all for the upcoming new millenium.

If any of you are fans of Art Bell you might recognize our next guest. Joe Firmage is a highly controversial figure, whose personal life has been as amazing as his recent spiritual revelations. Having been raised a Mormon, Joe left the flock with his father when he was 18. Skilled in science and computers he started a software company out of high school that was acquired by Novell for $24 million dollars. Now in his mid-twenties Joe started US Web, the prestigious server whose clients include Levi-Strauss, Nike and Apple. US Web is currently valued at 2 billion dollars. After choking on that figure, fathom this. Joe was visited by an Alien/Angel in October 1988 who engaged Joe in an in-depth conversation about warp drives and time travel. This experience spurred Joe to write a 600 page on line book that summarizes the entire history of mankind, including our origins and ultimate destiny! Why would a short-haired straight looking former Mormon risk his reputation with such heretical out pouring, why indeed.

I entered into our conversation knowing that we had only 20 minutes to tie it all together. I was hesitant to pursue a line of questioning that would focus on Joe’s visitation by an Alien. I’ve spent too much of my life squandering time talking about aliens and the “what ifs,” of our ancestral heritage and future. I was more interested in if Joe Firmage was (I know this sounds stupid) “a nice guy.” I was impressed by Joe’s sincerity and lack of pompousness and was grateful that the guy even gave me the time of day. So anyhew, here it is in all its glory, my first interview with a billionaire who was visited by ET.


Joe firmage interview

HUMP: Hi Joe, this is DNA in Chico, California.
Joe: Hi. How are you?
HUMP: I’m doing pretty good. How are you?
Joe: Good.
HUMP: You lead a pretty busy life, huh?
Joe: Oh God, yes.
HUMP: Um, and we’ve got a short amount of time, and I’ve been reading your online book, and plowing through it, and, I mean, one of the things I’m amazed at is just the volume of knowledge, and just the level of organization. And the amount of work that went into writing it. And I was curious about how you devoted, I mean, it sounds like you’re doing stuff right now, and that you’re a busy guy, how do you take time out to write a book like this?
Joe: Well, it was an effort. Sleepless nights. First off, it was actually a collaborative effort. About 10 co-authors, whose works I integrated, and added my own integrating text, and glue, if you will, to hold the entire work together. Uh, it was a project that leveraged some of the best thinking of 10 of the best thinkers out there across the planet. Physics, history, spiritual studies and such. And, I think that the ultimate purpose of the online book is to present an evolving picture of this entire domain as it becomes clearer and clearer and clearer over the next few years. So its essentially an online starting point for what I expect to be a perpetual story that will become more and more comprehensive and more and more accurate as time goes on.

HUMP: I don’t think that takes away from the validity of, I mean, maybe, correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that the initial skeleton of the story and the vision of the story is singularly your idea.
Joe: That’s my part. My part is the… about half the text is mine.
HUMP: Right.
Joe: And the skeleton, if you will, that organizes it as it is, is my contribution. I’m obviously the principle editor of this, and so, but it’s a project that will continue forever, basically. As long as I’m around. And that is, in view of the fact that the scale of the effort required to tell a story of this magnitude really does extend on for years and years and years and years in the future.
HUMP: Yeah, to tell a story that encompasses everything is going to be hard to put within two covers (laughs).
Joe: Precisely. And besides that, one of the objectives here is to show how this story evolves over time. Those of us who study it believe that sometime in the next perhaps decade of so, something very significant is going to happen.
HUMP: Sure.
Joe: And plotting the trajectory that we take as we hurtle towards that date, is very interesting to write about, right? So that ten years or twenty years from now you can sort of go back and look and see how the story evolved. What we came to understand. What was wrong and what was right. I’m most confident about the overall hypothesis, which is expressed on the first page of the site, or the Table of Contents page, that is. That sort of tells the poetic story.
HUMP: I’m well aware of the more mystic, esoteric, gnostic side of things, but to me, plowing through this online book is like reading a version of our past history that was not taught in school. Like the stories of slavery, or the stories of one civilization conquering another, and the spoils of war, and all that is so fascinating, yet its not really a mystic knowledge, but it is a hidden or gnostic truth.
Joe: That’s exactly right. From my perspective, there is a history of humanity. There is a history. And from my perspective, many of the mythic traditions have been given the title ‘myth’ because we have presumed that they were imagined. I believe that many of our mythic histories have been imagined, and have been essentially constructions of our fantasy. But on the other hand, I also believe, unlike most in the science community, that new discoveries in physics suggest that some of those ancient myths may well in fact have a very important basis in hard reality. A reality that we may just now be coming prepared to grasp. Uh, I mean, the concept of us joining a cosmic civilization, is so sweeping, so staggering and so completely profound in its impact to human civilization, as to be impossible to overstate.
HUMP: Right.
Joe: That’s the type of understanding that it makes all the sense in the world to believe takes millennia to come to. In a stable and well-ordered and comprehensive manner. Imagine, for the sake of discussion, that we discover gravitational propulsion sometime in the next decade. That isn’t the type of discovery that is even meaningful, intellectually, to human beings merely one hundred years earlier. So when you look at the grand march of discoveries in science, I believe they point to a certain path. And it happens to be the same path that many mystical traditions point to. That’s what has me so captivated here. And that’s what has me convinced that there are both scientific and there are spiritual components to the future that we face.
HUMP: I’m not in your shoes, and I can’t imagine what it would be like to be you, but it would seem to me that, with your amazing touch for business, and your first-hand encounter with ‘something’, and also the way that this book is written, that, I mean, how do you escape from, like, a Messiah complex kind of thing? Where, it would seem at times you must feel overwhelming, like, its your mission to spread this word. You have the resources to do it. You know what I mean? Like, how do you maintain, even just in the course of a busy day, how do you maintain staying grounded, to this planet? I mean, does it seem at times like, you know, there’s an urgency to get the message out?
Joe: It’s a very fine line to walk. There’s an enormous weight on my shoulders to make sure that whatever I do, I do right. One of the things I’ve learned, however, is a very profound respect for humility. And the fact that we’re all in this ship together. And we each have a vital role to play. Just different roles. I’ve tried to avoid the sort of messianic overtones of this role. The obvious perception on the part of some is that that’s where the motivation for this all comes from. But the reality is that the circumstance that I find myself in is what it is. I can’t change it. I chose the path that I’ve chosen because I think that its, frankly, the only kind of path that is going to make happen the kind of changes to human civilization that must be made if we’re to survive through the next century. So there are fundamental civilization-shaping things about my mission with ISSO. There’s no question about that. Those are the types of activities that reach to the deepest core of science, to the deepest core of spirituality, and that will have an impact, hopefully, in a very profound and positive way on humanity as a whole. There are a lot of people in human history who have had that kind of impact, so I just want people to understand I’m one of many. I want to be one of many. I want to collaborate with, and frankly, I must collaborate with and have the support of many, many, many people, because despite what is sort of presumed about me, I don’t have the resources to do this by myself. And I probably don’t even have the energy (laughs). I certainly don’t have the energy to do it by myself.
HUMP: I’m not a big fan of psychoanalysis, and I think that those terms are even thrown in to our society to stop people from speaking out. So, I always wonder, why don’t more people who have the resources, speak out? And then you go, “Well, they don’t want to be labeled a radical or a rebel or a nut, or a messiah complex person.” There are people who have no resources saying similar things as you, but no one listens to them because they have no way to get their message out. So I admire the fact that you’re taking a stand, because no matter what happens, it still takes guts to get out and say something. Even if it’s not right.
Joe: That, I agree with. It is frankly one of the great learnings that I’m pretty glad I learned while I’m still young enough to live it, is to try to live life out loud. You know, just take more courageous stands. I mean, really, what is life about? Do you really want to live your life sort of hiding away in the little hole that society has creating for you? Or do you want to try to make a difference, take some risks, sometimes fall flat on your face and sometimes leap beyond even where you thought you might? That’s something that I genuinely hope others will do. I would absolutely love to be joined in this endeavor by other, more brilliant, more capable, more articulate people, who have their own insights to share in this quest.
HUMP: Mm. I mean, I think the alien part of the story, although within the context that it is the beginning point and the end point in a lot of ways, it almost can be removed from the whole text. It kind of kills the point, but in the book there is so much information about history and historical facts, and I think the ultimate questions are, “Where do we come from?” and “Where are we going?”.
Joe: Yeah, I mean, all too often today, we forget to ask these kind of questions. “What exactly is our purpose?”
HUMP: Right.
Joe: “Why is there anything as opposed to nothing?”
HUMP: Right.
Joe: You know, these are the obvious philosophical questions that have remained unanswered for a long, long, long time. Science has not come much closer to answering these ultimate questions. And that fact is something that I’m trying to help rectify.
HUMP: There are a lot of little points in the book that might be glossed over, that I think are so crucial. There’s a quote about, the thing not to worry about is the extremists that are outside, the paranoid nuts who will blow up a building, but the extremists that are inside the political system. They’re the ones who can really do the most damage.
Joe: Oh yeah. I mean, a bad policy decision can have far more deleterious impact on human beings in this country that some nut who blows up a building. When you make, for example, decisions about empowerment zones or race relations, or whatever, you’re essentially making decisions with similar impact. It occurs in slow motion, right, and it occurs without the fanfare because of that, so they’re harder to see, but from my perspective, when, as I say in the book on several occasions, murderers murder whether it occurs at the end of a barrel of a gun or at the end of a ballpoint pen. Where you have decisions that impact people on a policy level, the moral and ethical consequences are the same, regardless of whether it happens in one minute or one year. And it’s that sort of degree of sophistication in our public policy, that I think is long overdue. Now, one of the big issues that sticks in my craw, that is not much a part of the book, but probably will be a part of future writings, is the catastrophic war on drugs. It’s just an absolute catastrophe. It is one of the colossal policy mistakes of the late Twentieth century. And its served to imprison probably half a million young people, for type of relatively innocent exploration and, you know, just basically play, that we all know, most of the politicians engaged in (laughs), or engage in. I find this whole George W. Bush debate humorous. That’s the type of social policy that has real impact. That gets thrown under sound bytes and glitsy marketing campaigns, and rather ill-informed and unscientific moral arguments. So, the real challenge that I face is in integrating a scientific world view with a spiritual world view. And I’m totally convinced that the two are entirely compatible. In fact, they’re so compatible, they’re bedmates. They need each other. Spirituality needs the perfection of truth that scientific methodology affords. Science needs to remember that what it does is measure. It does not, it is not the creative thing. It measures the created thing. Whether you’re talking about physics or chemistry or geology or biology, or psychology, or any of the scientific disciplines. Every one of them share the common, basic fact that what they do is measure phenomena. But the most fantastic and beautiful point is that the phenomena exist. Atoms exist. Stars exist. Galaxies exist. Planets exist. Biological beings exist.
HUMP: During my younger days (laughs), you know, when I had a head full of steam I really lived in more of the mythic world. I think it’s a frightening thing for the establishment to, although we’re a very Christian society and an “In God We Trust” gang, there’s not a whole lot of questioning of religion. If you have a world view that explores world myth, right away you see parallels between Christianity and a thousand other religions. You can draw a line through humanity, showing different symbols of different cultures, explaining how we’re all related spiritually. Spirituality, I feel, follows similar laws of evolution. I think that questioning religion is as frightening to the establishment as aliens landing on the White House lawn. Because it changes everything. It’s a shaking up of the establishment. Everything we know.
Joe: I totally agree with you.
HUMP: Bush wanted to have a ‘One World Order’, so did Reagan. But what we really need is a ‘One World View’. And I think that’s what your book’s trying to establish. And trying to draw parallel lines.
Joe: In fact, it’s basically saying, “When you reach a common world view at a fundamental level, what you get is the worship of diversity.” You transform the view of a difference from me to you, from a source of conflict to a source to treasure. Where your different habits, your different beliefs, your different qualities are something that I seek out in you. As opposed to attempt to eviscerate. And that’s, if I was to describe the ultimate entological perspective, it would be that. Where diversity is the point of unity, rather than the point of difference, or conflict.

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