Suzanne G. Corbett, of Dayton, OH, known to her friends as Suzie, recently refused to have a seventh birthday:
I like being six years old, and my mommy says that when I’m seven, I’ll have to be a big girl and won’t be able to eat my mud pies anymore.
This is, perhaps, a typical childhood situation, but in this case, it has touched off a scientific and philosophical debate about the nature of time and its relation to human perception. Philosopher Lori Cox, Emerita Professor of Philosophy at Erie University, came to hear about Suzie’s declaration and wrote a paper called “Phenomenology of Time Awareness and Digital Consciousness: A Futurist Perspective,”1 in which she argues that time does not exist apart from awareness of time. Because of this, she concludes that Suzie will actually cease to be human, and become a rock, if she continues to refuse to acknowledge the passage of time.
Only rocks can really stand apart from the passage of time, the Zeitbewegung of Selbstwerden. While Suzie may seem to other people, from the empirical or superficial (oberflächlich) point of view, to still be a small child (Kleinkind), her inner being, her self-understanding, will become more and more that of the non-animated mineral (Mineral). Such are the possibilities of radical self-transformation and self-creation (radikale Selbsttransformation und Selbsterstellung).
Scientists at the International Hungarian University became interested in Cox’s claims, and have decided to put her theories to the test. With the enthusiastic consent of Suzie’s parents, they have arranged to continually monitor the little girl. This monitoring involves video cameras placed in the Corbett home and car, as well as in Suzie’s school and church, and a rotation of surveillance drones following her when outside. The researchers have also placed fMRI and MEG equipment under Suzie’s bed, so that they can measure her neurological activity while she sleeps. The scientists will use a variety of techniques, including sophisticated computer algorithms, astrology, and randomly picking phrases from The Flying News in order to determine Suzie’s mental, physical, and emotional age, thus providing evidence for or against Cox’s philosophical claims. Preliminary results indicate that Suzie continues to eat mud pies (Schlammtorten), but the interpretation of these results calls for further study.
Photo based on Birthday13Slovakia1,” by Jozef Kotulič via Wikimedia Commons. CC-BY-SA-3.0.
- Journal of Futurist Phenomenology 2 (2014): 23-49. ↩