Written by: Alyssa | November 21st, 2015
Part I: The Cultural Music Cycle
Attempts at predicting the future with some type of scientific system have been prepared as far back as 3,500 BC with Sumerian astronomy (Aaboe, 1991) forecasting the best time to plant crops and forecasting possible disasters, to the present day business analysts predicting the value of accruals within market anomalies (Nam, Brochet, & Ronen, 2012).
To predict the future, in the context of history repeating itself, can be seen as far back as the Greek historian Polybius (ca. 200-118 BC) who paralleled the rise of the Roman Empire during his time with that of his native Greece’s Empire a few hundred years earlier (Finley, 1959). Ironically, one of the ideas from Polybius, the ‘separation of powers in government’ was later revisited in history by Montesquieu’s ‘The Spirit of the Laws’ and within our own United States Constitution that forms our government – thereby making Polybius a living example of the idea he postulated and thus becoming a part of the cycles of history repeating itself. If history indeed repeats itself, and if an aspect of history could be analyzed using the data collected over a period of time (Merriam, 2009) then a grounded theory design might be formed, should the proper core category and properties be found.
Although it has been shown that individuals feel more confident predicting the distant future (Nussbaum, Liberman, & Trope, 2006) than a more recent one, accurate prediction of any length into the future is a quality that can effect the outcomes within many fields of study and industry, such as achievement within the context of behavior (Heizer & Dunning, 2012), taxes and stocks (Thomas & Zhang, 2011), and even breeding distributions within a species of birds (Barbet-Massin, Thuiller, & Jiguet, 2012).
Focusing on an attribute of culture, such as music, the power to predict outcomes could remedy problems in many areas, and be of great benefit in a wide range of areas where music has an effect on individuals, such as predicting dysphoria among heavy metal listeners (Shafron, & Karno, 2013), a woman’s preference for more complex music around the time of her ovulation (Charlton, Filippi, & Fitch, 2012) and stress management (Frey, 2013).
Since music is becoming more a form of social activity, in turn becoming an antecedent to cultural events (Torvinen, 2009), understanding the cycle of musical trends could act as a predictive tool when applied to, and associated with, other cultural phenomenon. A researchable-grounded theory problem, then, would be to observe the past data of musical styles and trends that have come and gone through the American music scene, in order to discover conceptual categories that might become a tool for
Purpose of the Research & Significance
When asked by EMI executives in Hamburg to predict the next future trend in music, Perkins (1998) found a historical cycle within the context of popular American music that repeated every 30 years. The graph below illustrates this 30-year cycle and how this cycle repeats itself historically in a very regular, and precise, pattern, as well as revealing the categories that define, and are the predictive tools, within each cycle. These categories are: the evolving electronic complication of the instruments, the rebellion phase (when a style is rejected by most of society) and the dance phase (when a style is accepted by most of society).
Perkins, D. (1998) Rzut oka w przeszlosc – Moja Gwiezdna Terapia (Atlantean Therapy)
Each cycle begins with a new category, which can be described as a new form of technology (or instrument) becoming associated with and affecting the new style of music created within this cycle. For example, the saxophone’s input with a certain cultural group’s experimental music of the 1920’s evolved into Jazz, the electric guitar in the 1950’s generated one of the defining elements of Rock & Roll, and the synthesizer became the foundation of the 1980’s electronic music.
Another category is the phases in which the cycle develops, and then fades away. For example, in the early 1950’s, Rock & Roll becomes the new ‘rebellious’ music for disfranchised youth (while being shunned by the rest of society) and then after 20 years, evolves into being the most popular form of music: the style of music most danced to, as well as used in commercials, film, and television productions.
The core category that ties the previously mentioned categories and properties of this 30-year cycle together is the planet Saturn, whose own orbit is on average 29.7 years, and appears to reflect the changes in the technology as well as both phases categories within each cycle (Perkins, 1998). For example, Saturn moved into the zodiac sign of Scorpio in the early 1920’s, 1950’s, and 1980’s, which coincides exactly with the rebellious, or rejected phase, and then moved into the sign of Taurus in the early 1940’s, 1970’s, and in the year 2000 to coincide exactly with the dance, or accepted phase.
Besides the exact timing equivalents of the planet Saturn moving into each sign, the characteristic of each sign (Erlewine, 2006) also matches the characteristic denoted within each phase. For example, one defining characteristic of Scorpio is sex (Erlewine, 2006), and the driving force of youth – sex – can also be seen as a defining characteristic within each cycle of the rebellion phases. O’Meally (1998) notes that not only is the association of jazz and sex early and extensive, but at it very core, jazz is sex. The same can be said of a young Elvis Presley, whose sexual gyrations (censored at first on national TV) in the 1950’s is a strong illustration of the sexual implications associated to the following cycle of Rock & Roll.
Saturn entering Taurus, a sign that represents “money” (Erlewine, 2006), also shares association with the dance phase of a cycle, for when a particular style reaches the height of its popularity, and is used in commercials, film, and television productions, money becomes more of the creation issue than raw youthful expression. Each phase in relation to Saturn can also be verified by external associations of Saturn with other planets (Perkins, 1998) since Saturn incurred both strong aspects with Venus and Jupiter (by 90° and 180°) in the beginning of both the rebellion and dance phases.
The evidence of this 30-year cycle then offers the practitioner a predictive tool using; for example, by extending this pattern one can visualize the next new style of music to begin developing around the year 2010. Note: actually around 2015 – for even though the current new style is already under development in the basements and garages across America, several years are needed for this new ‘raw’ form of music to enter mainstream music outlets. For example, the identifying iconic Rock and Roll song “Rock Around the Clock” (Freeman & Myers, 1952) did not become popular until its rendition by Bill Haley and His Comets until 1954, even though the elements of rock and roll were being experimented with several years earlier.
Further predictions can be made using these same categories of this current cycle that started recently to make the prediction that the dance phase of this current cycle now underway will occur in the year 2030.
With this music cycle as a model, the applications of such grounded theory can then be applied significantly to other areas of study and industry (psychology, business, social trends, national policy, etc) in order to create a more reliable tool for predicting outcomes.
In the context of this study, by observing the categories of the musical styles and trends previously described, these musical conceptual categories can be linked to categories of other cultural phenomenon so that a tool for predicting different cultural trends may be created.
According to Maxwell (2013), theory is “…a set of concepts and proposed relationships….that is intended to represent or model something bout the world” (p.42). With theory being a part of the scientific method since the time of Socrates (Vlastos, 1991), one of the abilities theory evolved from this time was allowing humanity to have the power of prediction, or a statement that some outcome is expected in the future. While a prediction is not always based on experience or knowledge; forecast, which is usually a more specific prediction and may cover a wider range of possible outcomes, is also not beholden to experience or knowledge as well.
Many predictions seen in today’s academic journals primarily focus on technical or behavioral applications, such as predicting wireless quality for sensor networks (Zhao et al., 2012), mental processes, such as for memory (Bundzel, & Hashimoto, 2010), and behavioral tendencies, such as towards suicide (Joiner et al., 2009).
Yet, since the time of the ancient Sumerians (Aaboe, 1991), using the planets as a major form of predictive tool was quite common up to the Age of Reason in the 17th Century, when the interpretative side of astronomy separated into its own branch: astrology. While astronomy continued down the path of the scientific method; astrology was instead hijacked by opportunists who degraded this predictive art to such a degree, that its main appearance for today’s society are only found in gossip and trash magazines at check out counters.
The predictive power of using the planets to prove a theory can be illustrated by the fact that Neptune and Pluto were both found by mathematical predictions (Urbain Le Verrier for Neptune, and Percival Lowell for Pluto) based on Newton’s theory of gravity, theorizing that the gravitational pull of one planet having an effect on the orbits of other planets. In other words, by careful analysis of all the planets in our solar system and applying Newton’s theory of gravity, Le Verrier theorized there was a planet beyond Saturn and Uranus (Grosser, 1962) and found Neptune, while Percival Lowell performed same form of mathematical analysis and prediction (Jones, 2010) to find Pluto.
The question emerges, if heavenly bodies hold proven descriptive and predictive powers to better understand the rest of the solar system, can they also hold descriptions and predictive powers for organisms and events on earth? The evidence behind a ‘yes’ answer to this question is scarce, but undeniably present. The following examples will illustrate how those who study the stars in the past have constructed theories and systems showing how the movements of the planets in our solar system can be used to describe and predict behaviors and events occurring on earth.
Perhaps the best-known forecaster of all time is Michel de Nostredame (1503 – 1566) whose writings and literature are more commonly known by his anglicized name Nostradamus. In 1649, Nostradamus wrote Quatrain 57 in his Centuries, Book III:
Sept fois changer verrez gent Britiannique,
Taintz en sang deux, nonnte an,
Franche non point par appuy Germanique,
Aries double son pole Bastarnan.
During the course of 290 years,
Britain would change its ruling dynasty seven times. (It did.)
Then, Aries (war) will come between Germany and another Germanic tribe,
The Bastarnan (a tribe living east of the Oder River, present day Poland),
Who will be protected by Britain. (Poland did have a treaty with Britain)
Basically, Nostradamus in 1649 states that in 290 years (or 1939) war will come to Germany and a Germanic tribe east of the Oder River (Poland) who will be protected/allied with Britain. While accurate historically, the above prediction may appear as simply a coincidence (or lucky guess) when standing alone, even with these elements of accuracy:
1.) A significant war did start in 1939
2.) It did start with Germany attacking its neighbor to the east of the Oder River
3.) The ‘tribe’ or people Germany attacked was protected/had a treaty with Great Britain
4.) From the time of the writing to the start of this war, Britain had 7 different rulers
However, when put in context with the other descriptions of this period such as the descriptions of the German leader (Lemesurier, 2003) who Nostradamus named Hister (one letter off from Hitler), how this leader would seduce the masses with his ‘tongue’ (or speaking ability), and how this Germany leader will actually come from the lower Danube (Austria), one has an extremely accurate portrayal of the situation in Germany in 1939. An accurate portrayal of the situation in 1939 Germany that was foreseen in the 17th Century.
The most commonly mentioned planet Nostradamus associates (Lemesurier, 2003) with his pre-World War II and events of World War II descriptions is Saturn, whose 30 year cycle when considered with aspects from other major planets can produce clear, measurable cycles of 10, 20, 30 & 60 years (Perkins, 1998).
In the 20th Century, the Swiss astrologer Karl Ernst Krafft cast the horoscope for the new Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Adolf Hitler, (Perkins, 2013) and made these three predictions: (1.) Hitler will bring Germany into war in the fall of 1939, (2.) Germany must make peace with Great Britain by the summer of 1941 or the tide of her early successes will turn against Germany (causing Rudolf Hess to fly to Scotland in May of 1941 in order to sue for peace), and (3.) the war will end in the spring of 1945.
Krafft, considered the authority of Nostradamus in the early 1900’s, expounded the planetary elements Nostradamus used in mundane or cultural predictions, by creating his own theory of astrological prediction named ‘typocosmy’ (Krafft, 1939) in which future tendencies where set against a personality type described in one’s horoscope.
Using this theory, Krafft also made forecasts for cultural events, and was the first to use the newly discovered ‘planet’ in 1930 – Pluto, or planet X as it was known at the time – to verify and create a more specific starting date of World War II as foreseen by Nostradamus in 1649, and his own prediction using Hitler’s horoscope in 1933. Six years after the discovery of Planet X (Pluto), there was enough data to track this distant “planet’s” movements (past and in the future), by use of an ephemeris Krafft created. Noticing the movement of Pluto into Cancer, which occurred in August of 1914, (Perkins, 2013) Krafft found Pluto’s transit appeared to ‘announce’ as the start of WWI. Using his theory of ‘typocosmy’, Krafft then went on to ‘narrow down’ the pervious predictions of 1939 by Nostradamus in 1649 and his own from 1933, to place the start of the Second World War to be in September of 1939, the month when Pluto would enter into the following sign of Leo.
With these historical examples mentioned above, combined with the 30-year musical cycle discovered by Perkins (1998) using his own theory of ‘synthesis’, or prediction by ‘synthesizing’ or combining planetary, cultural, technological, social, and human cycles, we can say there is a plausible case for investigating events on earth in regards to the planetary positions and movements that occur in our solar system.
The most basic underlying assumption for this framework is the ancient Greek Neo-Platonic philosophical idea of a micro- and macrocosm schema throughout the universe, in which the same patterns operate the same in all levels of the universe (Plato, 1987).
This concept was earlier described as ‘as it is above, so it is below’ seen in ancient Sumerian texts (Aaboe, 1991), the Egyptian Book of the Dead (Budge, 1895), and later in ancient Greece as the religion Hermeticism, that later influenced such figures as Thomas of Aquinas and Augustine to incorporate elements of this philosophy into Christianity (Abel & Hare, 1997) as well as Isaac Newton, who stated his study of the Corpus Hermeticum was of great aid to his understanding of the physical world (Pemberton, 1728).
Newton also theorized that if but one planet were to leave the solar system, then the orbits, rotations, and even the axis of all the other planets would change drastically.
This assumption of an occurrence happening in one area of space – no matter how minor – can be connected to another in a distance area of space was illustrated mathematically (Mandelbrot & Freeman, 1983) with the hypothetical calculation of a butterfly flapping its wings in Africa being connected by air of a hurricane forming in the Atlantic Ocean.
Visual Representation of Madelbrot’s “Butterfly Effect” Perkins (1993) Matrix Software
More recently, Douglas (1990) notes there are many ways to plot the concept of microcosm and macrocosm, from the representation of the human body as a temple or house, to the movement of the earth and stars in order to allow us a universal orientation on several levels. This assumption that “all things are connected” can also be illustrated by the very existence and movement of our own galaxy, which is spiraling outwards (Hubble, 1936). As Perkins (1998) noted, if we were to go back in time far enough to watch the spiraling process reverse and move inward, eventually a point in time would come where our galaxy would simply be one large ‘piece of light’, thereby creating an actual point in time when everything within our galaxy was physically connected.
Courtesy of Posterart.com
The interrelated fabric – or gravity – that holds the solar system together as described by Newton above can be also illustrated by O’Neill’s (2008) observation that Jupiter’s gravitational pull appears to be forcing Mercury into a death orbit, thus validating that one planet can have a strong influence, or is interrelated, to another outside of merely affecting certain elements of it orbital path and even speed.
While scientific studies as we define it today were not conducted in ancient times, there were enough occurrences of human behavior aligned with planetary – or Moon – positions for early peoples to notice an effect that contributed to the very words we use, such as lunatic to describe one who goes ‘crazy’ during a full moon (Raison, Klein, & Steckler, 1999), or the common myths and stories found in nearly every culture that the ‘animal side’ (werewolf in western culture) comes out during a full moon. What few studies that have been done between the interrelated connection between the moon and behaviors of organisms on earth have found: animal bites occur more during a full moon (Bhattacharjee, Bradley, Smith, Scally, & Wilson, 2000), the reproductive activities of many fish species are cued by the moon, (Takemura, Rahman, and Park, 2010), homicides, suicides, fatal traffic accidents, aggravated assaults, and psychiatric emergency room visits occurring in Dade County, Florida demonstrated statistically significant increases around a full moon (Lieber & Sherin, 1978) as well as in Bavaria, Germany (Biermann et al., 2009).
While these past studies indicate a strong interrelationship between the Moon and organisms on earth, only one study exists showing the relationship from a heavenly body beyond the moon, which are the findings produced by Gauquelin (1955), describing as what later became known as the “Mars effect”.
When analyzing the statistical correlation between elite French athletes and their horoscopes, having a statistical significant number of these athletes had the planet Mars being placed just above their ascendant or just past the mid-heaven positions in these athlete’s personal horoscopes.
Against the backdrop of a horoscope wheel, the Mars positions of elite French athletes are plotted, showing a significant number having Mars positions just pass two angular points on a chart, the Ascendant and Mid-heaven.
Therefore, while certain behaviors to organisms on earth can have a direct connection drawn to the moon, there are indications that other planets could have possible effects and outcomes related to individuals as well. Based on the historical, biological, planetary, and cultural phenomenon as illustrated above, it would appear that the Moon has an association with producing an affect on individual organisms, while the outer planets appear to have an association with cultural events, and tendencies that found in larger groups of individuals.
How can events and observed data of various cultural trends, over time in a grounded theory design, be formulated to discover a core category for predicting outcomes using planetary motion? The key concepts of a micro- & Macrocosm universe along with the assumption that all things are connected lead to the expectation that an event occurring in one area of space could be affect elements in another space, no matter how distance.
Should planetary cycles be associated with patterns and cycles on earth, such as the 30-year musical cycle theory illustrated above, then the current musical cycle now underway will confirm the study when this newest cycle that started in the year 2010 will follow the same pattern and contain the same categories (new instrument, rebellion and dance phase) as the previous cycles occurring in 1920, 1950, and 1980. Further confirmation could also be created should this theory of planetary cycles be applied to an element of culture that is often related to music, such as fashion, dance, and performances.
NEXT TIME: PART II – THE FILM CULTURAL CYCLE
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