by, 03-17-2012 at 12:38 PM (972 Views)
I'm not sure if I've said this before or not, but I'm going to ask anyway: what is it about the number 3? Is it really a 'magic' number? I wonder.
Recently I read this really ace book called The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa. If you haven't read it, I can recommend it. Not much happens, but the professor (who has only an 80 minute memory) is, or was, a professor of mathematics and much of the book involves the magic of number theory which, as a non-mathematician, I found quite fascinating. Perfect numbers, imperfect numbers, primes. All really interesting things.
And it reminded me how I've noticed before the curious thing about the number 3. Like it's a memorable number. Or maybe it's rhythmic. I'm not sure. But think about it: so many things come in threes. We remember things in threes. There's:
The Holy Trinity: the father, the son and the holy spirit.
The three jewels of buddhism.
The family: the mother, the father and the child.
Sun, moon and stars.
Mind, body and spirit.
Beginning, middle and end.
Rock, paper, scissors
The executive, the legislature and the judiciary
and that's just what I can think of off the cuff. And then there's poetry. Doesn't a sentence or a line of poetry or prose feel just kind of right when it comes in threes? Or even the spoken word? How about this:
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
in which there are three blackbirds.
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
Doesn't it just feel...balanced?
How often do you hear politicians talking about 'education, education, education'? Or even in work 'truth, trust, teamwork' (yes, that's the kind of organisation I work for!).
Or am I just seeing significance where there is none?