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Age is an Algorithm

David Cowles

May 23, 2023

“We systematically suppress our actual experience and replace it with whatever it is we think we are supposed to experience, and we call that reality.”

“Yesterday, my neighbor’s ‘12-year-old boy’ headed off to college and his ‘six-year-old baby sister’ started middle school. What’s going on here? I feel as though I turned once around, clicked my heels, and poof, the whole world changed overnight.” 

This may be how it seems to you, but of course, you don’t take seeming seriously. You’re educated; you know that Time is something you measure by uniform ticks of a clock (or oscillations of an EM particle). 

Any other way of looking at Time is childish… or a flashback to that famous acid trip you took in the ‘60s. So, here as elsewhere, we systematically suppress our actual experience (seeming) and replace it with what we are supposed to experience (knowing), and we call that reality! 

Of course, this has dire consequences: Constantly having to reject one’s own experience in favor of the manufactured collective experience of society leads to a loss of self-esteem; why can’t I see what others see? Too late, you realize that those others don’t actually see what they pretend to see either. 

We’re all gazing at the wall and cooing back and forth about the beauty of the mural painted on it…but none of us actually sees anything other than a bare wall. Asked, “And what do you think?” we spew out the same babble that we were given, thus reinforcing the consensus of the unreal.

By subsuming our real experience to the imaginary collective experience of our culture, we make it just that much harder for others to honor their own experience. You should have stood your ground. While you were turning around once and clicking your heels, the world was changing…massively! Is this myth or magic? Neither…it’s math! 

Let’s keep it simple: I am 75, and I have a 15-year-old grandson. 5 years ago, I was 70 and he was 10. In the ensuing 5 years, I aged just over 7% (75/70) while my grandson aged exactly 50% (15/10). During that period, my grandson aged 7x more than I did. Conversely, time flowed 7x faster for me than for my grandson. No wonder he’s bored, and I can’t find enough hours in the day. Check it out: 

So, Time is passing 7x faster for me than it is for my grandson! My week is his day! The idea that everyone is moving through Time at the same rate is based on a long abandoned view of Time as absolute, objective reality. 

Einstein was the first to show that Time’s ‘flow rate’ is relative, i.e., relative to motion. What I’m suggesting goes way beyond Einstein and does not require relative motion. If we are to be true to phenomenal experience itself, we must begin our inquiry with our subjective experience of Time: how fast is Time flowing for me at my age?

We have learned to self-censor. We nudge ourselves to conform our perceptions to the expectations of others. No one wants to admit that she is the only one who doesn’t know who the emperor’s wearing on the red carpet this season.  

It is no wonder then that we don’t seem to be making much progress, metaphysically speaking. We’ve suppressed the World we’re here to read (Joyce) and replaced it with a stripped down, Cliff Notes version that mainly reflects the ‘wisdom’ of Plato, Euclid and Newton, RIP.

Today, virtually all intellectual inquiry takes place in a collectively designed, artificial universe. “They’ve paved Paradise and put up a parking lot.” (Joni Mitchell) All our reasoning is therefore self-referential. We define a world a priori; then we deduce certain theorems regarding that world. Finally, we attempt to use those same theorems to prove that the world we defined actually exists. Neat…circular…useless!

Everything we do, we do with curated data and circular models. My grandest philosophical edifices amount to nothing more than “ice cream castles in the air.” (Judy Collins)

We need to hit Refresh and return to Ground Zero, i.e., raw, minimally processed, subjective experience. Like a gourmand undertaking a ‘cleanse’, we need to get back on a diet of fruit and uncooked vegetables. 

Collectively, we must begin paying attention to our actual experiences instead of the pre-digested pseudo-experiences served-up to us at home, in school, on the job, and through the media. 

We must undertake a thorough epistemological self-examination: what do we believe, and why do we believe it? And we need to discard whatever is not ultimately grounded in actual experience, especially if it is inconsistent with that experience.

Meanwhile, you can run the Age Algorithm™ for yourself. Fact: Time flows at different rates for people of different ages. You can use the Age Algorithm™ to calculate the relative rate of flow for any two people at any two (different) ages. You can even use it to compare Time’s flow for you at different periods of your own life: 

Example: you are 50 and your youngest daughter is 10. One year equals 2% of your life span, but that same year equals 10% of hers. Time flows 5x faster for you than for her.

Resolved: From now on, I will ground all my philosophical inquiries in my own (subjective) experience. I will battle groupthink wherever I find it! Will you join me?


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