Which culture values ​​life more than money?

New prosperity - "We have to learn to appreciate time"

Professor Geißler, let's start with the “simplest” question: What is time?
Nobody knows that. There is no one-size-fits-all answer - there are a thousand different ones! Most people answer the question, “Look at the clock!” For them, time is what the clock shows. The Germanists think it's a monosyllabic word, but that doesn't get us much further either. My 6-year-old granddaughter said the best I have ever heard: "There is no time. They only exist in the brain, right next to dreams. "

So the term is not easy to define. Then what do you do as a time researcher?
At least a researcher of time is not someone who deals briskly with time. But one who reflects what people do with time.

You are also a time consultant - wouldn't everyone need a time therapist these days?
Everyone has to advise themselves when it comes to time. And sometimes, if he thinks this will only get into bigger problems, he can consult a time advisor. No time manager, however, because it only puts him under even more time pressure than before. For them, time is just something they use to keep things tidy - with the help of to-do lists, which themselves have to be permanently reorganized in a time-consuming process. But time has no order. It's as messy as life. Time counseling is about balancing the contradictions, the diversity, the irregularities and the intangibles of time.

What was the greatest milestone for you in the history of time?
The invention of the clock was the greatest, because it had the most momentous, invention in the context of time measurement - this was the foundation of abstract time. Until then, time was identical to weather and nature, as it is today in French, Italian and Spanish - time and weather have the same concept.

With the passage of time, time became abstract and qualitatively empty. We can occupy this abstract emptiness on the clock with new standards. If we occupy it with love, we deal with it very differently than if we occupy it with money, then we have to hurry. This is how capitalism comes into being. Our life, including banks and insurance companies, is only conceivable on the basis of this abstract time. Only in this way can we manipulate time, gain and lose, accelerate and make it faster. That is the problem of our everyday life: We always live with two times, the rhythm of the time and the rhythmic time that we feel, i.e. our sense of time.

What is the difference between tactical and rhythmic time?
All life is rhythmic. That is, it repeats itself, but it never repeats itself with high precision, but reacts to environmental influences. So it is a repetition with variations: All people get tired every day, but not at the same second every day. All systems, the whole human body, the blood circulation, the hormone release run rhythmically. If the load is too great, the system reacts: the heart attack is the overloading of a rhythmic system through the beat. Because the beat is repetition without deviation. If an hour were 60, 63, 58 minutes long, then the clock is broken.

Because of this, do we humans keep getting problems with the time?
Yes, because we humans are rhythmic and the clock is tactical. Ultimately, this causes us burn-out because we cannot tolerate excessive timing in the long term. In the past, shift workers were found to have digestive problems and sleep disorders after a few years, for example, but today this is more likely to be expressed in psychological reactions.

Were the inventors of the clock aware of the impact their invention would have on the centuries to come?
No. The clock was made ironically in the monastery: they wanted to have a means to dutifully complete the service. Because of their time nature, the monks had always slept through a time of prayer. Because of their guilt, they invented the mechanical clock, which also woke them up.

Before that, the rooster woke you up?
Exactly. But a rooster depends on the season.

What good is the division of our time with the clock?
To convert time into money. But that only works if everyone really believes in it. It's not obvious - the Chinese didn't believe in it until two centuries ago. The belief that the clock tells time and that it is a time that can be offset against money is essential. So time has a lot to do with religion.

Read more about the “No Time!” Phenomenon in the August issue of Cicero magazine.

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In the international debt and banking crisis, we are now noticing how belief in money is waning. What would happen if people stopped believing the time?
Belief in the time is decreasing, as is belief in money. Today we organize our life with the mobile phone, through communication and less and less by looking at the clock. The turnover for utility watches falls radically, that for investments increases. What we know from horses happens: the horse has determined our speed for millennia, then it was replaced by the steam locomotive. In the end, it became a luxury item. We experience this natural development again and again in different things.

So will wealth soon no longer be measured in money but in time?
If we want to continue the game - yes. We still believe in the formula “time is money”, but the logical consequence of this formula would be that the unemployed have the most money and the opposite is the case.
The prosperity of goods will one day reach its limits: We live really well and don't need a third computer or smartphone. Our high standard of living will not be sustainable, so we have to learn to appreciate again that time prosperity is also a category. This lesson will be necessary because the cost of the “time is money” calculation becomes so great that it is no longer profitable.

The politicians are currently feeling this: Because the Federal Constitutional Court is trying to give politics a rhythm by criticizing the fact that the politicians clocked their politics after the money. But that doesn't work because democracy has to do with people and not with money. Democracy must necessarily be rhythmic, so the court intervenes. It's a little lesson for politics.

What disadvantages and what advantages does the new medium of the Internet offer for our use of time?
The advantage is that the Internet does not set a clock. On the other hand, there is no time at all, so there is no rhythm either. That is the problem: We have to deal rhythmically with the Internet, but have lost the rhythm due to our two hundred year history.
In some companies, for example, flexitime is offered - so you could go back to work rhythmically. But we have found that the moment flexitime is introduced, people buy an alarm clock to keep themselves up to date.

There are many stories that deal with the topic of time - even with “Momo” by Michael Ende, the gray men were wasting time saved and people had to rush more and more - what do such images say about our handling of time?
With “Momo” the longing for rhythm is cultivated without making it a topic. Ultimately, in history, life is stolen from the structure of the time, for which the gray gentlemen only serve. It is personalized, as is always the case in fairy tales. Such books are a reminder that we are largely blind in a system that poses great problems and that there are alternatives to this form of life.

[gallery: The Germans' favorite time out]

How can one learn these alternatives?
First of all, it is important to differentiate between deceleration and indignation. I'm not a decelerator. '

What is the difference?
Horror is about reducing unnecessary acceleration and thinking qualitatively about time again, no longer quantitatively. In practical terms, this means: the ambulance should not come with the horse, because it is important that he is quick. But we often rush to the concert, for example, or drive each other with “go fast!”. Some people even say: "Wait a minute!" - Madness: We live in a society that even waits quickly!
We have to turn these things off in order to live happier and more prosperous time. But this is not about slowing down in general. I also get upset when someone dawdles at the cash register. In certain cases, where it is justified, it should be slowed down.

Charlie Chaplin addressed time pressure as early as 1936 in “Modern Times”. Why doesn't he let go of us?
We increase the time pressure through new mechanisms and then spread the illusion of getting away from it. But that's not true. Chaplin's film shows industrial society. Today, however, we live in a knowledge, communication and highly accelerated flexibility society that no longer accelerates with speed, but with compression. And that is then sold as the time release.

Compaction - does that mean we are no longer getting faster, but simply have to do more in the same amount of time?
That's the way it is. At the same time, there are more ways to get out: you can tell your boss these days that you need three months of unpaid vacation. So today you can organize time wealth individually - but you have to pay for it.

Thank you for your time, Mr. Geissler, and the interview!

The interview was conducted by Karoline Kuhla.

Professor Dr. Karlheinz Geißler retired in 2006 after thirty years as a professor for business education at the Bundeswehr University in Munich. He is co-founder of the German Society for Time Policy and founder and partner of timesandmore - Institute for Time Consulting. He is also the author of several books, most recently "Everything has its time, only I have none: Paths to a new culture of time" (Oekom, 2011)