Eske Bockelmann: «In the Rhythm of Money»


The beat rhythm has its origin in the fact that we have to deal with money every single day – something that emerged in the 16th century Europe for the first time in all of human history.


 "New silks from Lyon…Flemish cloth…Pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg from India…Grains from Russia… Lisbon, Antwerp, Venice… Venice!" In the markets of 16th century Europe, something is happening… The days of mere pennies are over. Great silver thaler are now being minted… and great is also the change that the world is now experiencing.

A great change to the European way of life, that until now has been almost entirely rural. Cities are now becoming more important and busy markets are emerging. These markets, along with many other places where trade takes place, are now combining – for the first time – to form a single market. They are becoming part of a trans-national trade. Now, for the first time, we see the emergence of what we’ve come to call… the market economy.


The Emergence of the Market Economy - suddenly money is everywhere

And suddenly money is everywhere. The markets, trade in general, require its constant use. Ordinary household items must now be bought. There’s now only one possible way to get them, and that’s with money. Money becomes essential to everyone, so they can buy what they need. More and more things are now appearing in shops – products are available for money in a way that was previously unknown – in fact, inconceivable.

Now, for the first time, money begins to penetrate and operate within society in the way that we all nowadays take for granted. It is the beginning of an immense transformation for the people of 16th century Europe. Like a departure to a new world, this transformation embraces every aspect of life. What an item is worth is no longer set by the authorities. The perception of value itself begins to shift.

People are freeing themselves from the prevailing world order. The unity of the church is breaking down. A deep crisis spreads throughout Europe. A society based on money is emerging, where there were local communities. And that is a devastating transition. One hundred years of civil war is the result.


Money in its modern form defines what we perceive as being rhythmic.

And these fundamental changes mean an inevitable shift in our way of thinking. A new form of consciousness emerges… No, it’s more than that. The change in how we think goes deeper, much, much deeper. It reaches all the way into our subconsciousHow do we know this? What enables us to see so clearly, deep inside our inner selves? 

Researcher Eske Bockelmann has made an astonishing discovery. He has shown that the way money now operates affects us deep inside, touching an area where we react completely unconsciously. It has affected our perception of rhythm.

Money in its modern form defines what we perceive as being rhythmic. There is a deep and direct connection between money and our sense of rhythm. 

So, alongside all the other profound changes taking place in 16th century Europe, we see the appearance of an entirely new way of perceiving rhythm. We in the 21st century also perceive rhythm in this way – completely automatically, entirely naturally – and in doing so produce what can be called ‘beat rhythm’. 

This beat rhythm has its origin in the fact that we have to deal with money every single day – something that emerged in the 16th century Europe for the first time in all of human history.

But what exactly is this beat rhythm? Most of what we hear – doesn’t strike us as being rhythmic. It doesn’t trigger any kind of feeling inside us – that there’s something rhythmic there. …that doesn’t sound particularly musical – but it has a certain rhythm, unlike what we heard before. This – is for us, definitely – rhythm. Firstly, there’s a type of beat, that underpins everything. Secondly, this beat sets up units of equal duration. Thirdly, and this isn’t immediately obvious to us – but is important for our kind of rhythm: these units – always form groups of two: “one-two, one-two, one-two, one-two, one-two”, or perhaps groups of exponents of two, that means groups of – four units, eight units, and so on, and so on.

So, when we hear a sound, we perceive it as rhythmic – at exactly the point at which it conforms to these ‘laws’ of beat-rhythm. We certainly don’t need a drum kit to make the beat obvious for us. We just as easily recognise beat-rhythm when we hear a Bach composition played on the flute. Here too are beat units with equal duration that group themselves into one-two, one-two. We find that very pleasant to listen to, always a nice one-two, one-two. But there are also groups of four: one-two-three-four, one-two-three-four. Or groups of eight… That all works fine, because so far we have kept to the ‘logic’ of our way of perceiving rhythm, and whenever we do that, our ‘ear’ plays along.

But we only notice what this actually means when we stop following this logic. A group of five, for example, is difficult for us to grasp. It seems somehow ‘unnatural’– and is clearly difficult for us to hear. The sounds are the same as before – but whether something sounds rhythmic to us...? – it’s clear that the sounds themselves are not the defining factor – but instead something is making that decision – in us – a kind of reflex within our perception. A process that operates so automatically – that we’re completely unaware. 

Aware of nothing except its effect – a very important effect: the fact that we perceive something as being rhythmic. This automatic process, performed by our sensory system, arranges what we hear – shapes it – and changes it. 

Listen very carefully. …tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock… Although the individual ticks all [lengthen ‘a-l-l’] sound exactly the same – we automatically hear them as to and fro. … tick-tock, tick-tock… Listen once again. We hear the ticking in groups of pairs of ticks: One-two, one-two, tick-tock, tick-tock… 

Given the fact that the ticks are all identical, the difference must be something that we are creating, somewhere inside us. This is precisely what our process of perception does, automatically. What exactly does it do?

  • Firstly, it identifies the periods between each tick as being equal units.
  • Secondly, it emphasises one unit in relation to the unit that comes after it: stressed and unstressed, tick-tock, one-two.
  • Thirdly, by distinguishing between the two units our perception creates a connection between them. Each sequence of two units is combined into a group.

That’s how it always was, and that’s how it will always be – that’s something we’re firmly convinced of. But this is exactly where things become interesting. For this belief is wrong. It wasn’t until around the end of the 16th century that people began to perceive rhythm in the same way as we do today – as beat rhythm. Of course – people had also felt rhythm before then – but that had always followed a completely different system. A system – that had absolutely nothing to do with the rules and structure of beat rhythm. We hear the difference straight away: a change in the type of rhythm. This rhythm seems completely different – compared to the type we’re used to. Where is the – one-two, one-two – we had before? I can’t find it! And this is because – this rhythm is not beat-rhythm. It doesn’t fit in with our rhythm reflex.

Let’s put that all together.

  • - Beat rhythm, our rhythm, has not always existed but in fact emerged during the course of history.
  • - In other words, it’s a product of specific historical conditions.
  • - These historical conditions appeared in the 16th century for the first time, but they have existed uninterrupted until the present day.
  • - Beat rhythm is created by an automatic reflex within us.

This reflex emerged in the people of 16th Europe as the result of historical conditions. And that is something truly amazing: a reflex that is the product of history.


The Relationship between Money and Goods

But which historical conditions are these? What was at that time so new? What can it be, that has compelled us ever since to – involuntarily adopt and use this – one-two one-two system The answer is simple, but astonishing: The historical facts point directly to one factor being the sole cause of this acquired reflex, namely money. More specifically: money as part of everyday life, which – and this is significant – only came about in the 16th century. But in which way does money become an everyday phenomenon? Simple: we use it to buy things – nearly everything has a price. Every purchase is simultaneously both a purchase and a sale. Money in exchange for goods, goods in exchange for money. In other words, we never engage solely with money but instead always with money together with something else. This is how it works:

Money on one side… …and any useful or attractive item on the other side. Now, when these items start to be bought and sold …they become goods. Money and goods exist opposite each other. As goods, each item has a price; in the context of sales transactions, this means that it is given an exchange value, which is measured in money. This value belongs to the goods. But that doesn’t mean that it is the goods. This value actually consists of nothing – but it follows the goods like a shadow.

It’s the same with money. A banknote represents a specific value, but is not in itself this value. Once again this ‘value’ consists of nothing, but it has a decisive role: during a sale it is able to function as exchange value in exchange for exchange value.And this of course means that the value of an item simply equals its cost – in other words, the amount of money that we need to pay for it. We allocate to that item the value of the money that it costs, whether we pay with cash, bank transfer or direct debit.

That means we make a connection between money and goods by setting an appropriate unit of value on both sides. The unit of value on one side corresponds to the unit of value on the other side. This means that I know that these two units of value exist, located somewhere in the banknote and the goods, but nevertheless neither of these units of value neither are actually present and visible in the real world. We have to create them – and this strange connection between goods and money – inside our heads. It is the conditions we are born into that train us to create this connection – a world in which the primacy of money is fully established. A world where most of what we need to live can only be bought, can only be obtained in exchange for money. In other words, we need to not only be familiar with this connection between goods and money, and the two units of this strange thing called ‘value’, but also to create them ourselves in our thinking. Constantly, every day, without stopping to look at what we are doing. We need to think like this automatically. So, in what is for us a very simple process of buying and selling, we have discovered a particular ability, that our brains need to make use of every single day. It works like this: Firstly, we think in terms of equivalent units – pure units, that in themselves actually consist of nothing. And secondly, we think in terms of these units as we connect them together in pairs, over and over again.

Doesn’t that remind you of what we discovered earlier when we looked at our beat-rhythm reflex? We create units of equal value, connect-them-in-pairs – over – and over again. With money, our brain operates, unconsciously, in exactly the same way as we saw earlier with regard to rhythm. Money and rhythm: two things that could not be more different. The distance between them seems im-mea-sura-ble. But it is the same thought process. We simply carry it over into an area – where we no longer recognise it.

But why does this way of thinking, that we use with money, also fit in so well with rhythm, or more precisely, with our perception of rhythm? When we listen in terms of beats, we also create units, more precisely units of time, and again combine them into groups. When doing this, we don’t perceive the tones themselves as being these units, but instead the distances between the beats, within which the tones operate. These units consist simply of time – pure – empty time. And time? Time – is – money. We don’t say this without good reason. There is a close affinity between money and time, and a clear similarity of form. 

And this similarity of form, between empty units of value on one hand and empty units of time on the other, is without doubt the  reason why this mental process is also active in us when we perceive rhythm. In other words, we are not able to limit this automatic mental process to its original domain of money and goods. For this process knows no limits. 

So let’s start with money. I’ve got a – one euro coin in my hand, two euros, fifty euros, a hundred euros, we’ve got a couple of thousand in the bank, shares worth four million-but we’ll also gladly accept dollars – yen, rubels... We always know, whatever the coin happens to look like – assuming it’s visible at all – that it’s not its value itself, but simply represents it, and that value – is only ever represented, by the same invisible substance, or ‘un-substance’ – yes, ‘un-substance’. And the goods? There are units of value in a pack of butter, in a loaf of bread, in a bottle of red wine, in a table, in a chair, in a lamp, in the light that it provides for us, in the fee that permits us to spend a day at a leisure centre – or an evening in the theatre…In short – there’s nothing – that can’t become a commodity – nothing – that can’t be given – an imaginary monetary value. There are no restrictions-no definition that could provide us with some kind of limit – as to what we can see as having monetary value – and what we can’t. 

There are no limits to this process of attaching value to goods. And there is nothing that prevents our consciousness from attaching this unit of ‘value’ to any kind of object, or any kind of thought. 

That this process extends beyond the realm of buying and selling – is inevitable. It must reach out into other areas. Our perception of rhythm is – just one example.


Money rules the World - from the inside

Money rules the world? Yes, and from the inside. There are thousands of visible examples of its effects. From the wealth it brings to a few, to dioxins in food as a result of its production being linked with commerce. From the latest oil disaster caused by the fact that regular maintenance on a drilling platform was ‘too expensive’, to the crisis of climate change that remains unaddressed ‘because the economy needs to keep running’. But we also need to be clear about the far-reaching nature of its invisible effects. How far, and how deep. Rhythm is one area that shows us how deeply it influences us all. Its immense reach is also to be found in other areas. And for this reason, it is essential that we fully realise the extent to which our entire way of thinking is defined by money. Do we really want it to control us from the inside? Or, can we, at all, free ourselves from it?

It’s people, us, who have created money’s controlling power, driven to do this by nothing other than ourselves. And we have ended up creating something that also holds our innermost world together. We need to be clear about how deep the effects of money lie within us, and how profoundly they influence the way we think. We are pushed into believing that it’s not us who decide about money, but that money makes the decisions about us. Is that really what we want, that we are ruled by financial imperatives? Do we want to tolerate that? 

And once again today, after 500 years of European history, we find ourselves in a deep crisis. A financial crisis. And that means: a crisis that money is creating for itself and, amongst others, for us. Nevertheless, money continues to operate as though nothing was happening, and whenever a situation impacts upon ‘the interests of The System’, governments exert maximum power to ensure that money retains its position – immense power. But what if one day this power were not enough? What if the power on the other side were greater? 

We will have to ask ourselves... No, we must ask ourselves now: what do we want to fight it with? Or better, what do we want to put in its place? 

Whatever the answer to that may be, in order for there to be any – possibility of change we need to be clear about the extent that we and our thoughts are influenced by money – and the specific way of thinking – that it imposes.

Signet Sunflower Foundation