Wednesday, 18 December 2013

3 is a Magic Number

Maths.  I'm just not very good at it, I can budget, do basic stuff but more advanced maths does leave me scratching my head like a chimp from a teabag advert.  I can't even remember my times tables half the time.

But I am fascinated by it, like David said yesterday poetry is often in metre, which gives it a pleasant rhythm. Music is also underpinned by maths too, and art. I have touched on the Fibonacci numbers and the golden mean before so I won't go over that again, but they influence art heavily, so it would seem that many things we find beautiful have a root in numbers.  

In creative writing there is a structure often termed the Rule of Three. When creating a sentence, when we put together a structure of three then it becomes more powerful.  Jokes become funnier, (comic triple) Rhetorical speeches become more persuasive. For example Benjamin Disraeli said; "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics".
When we summarise one idea with three words it's called a Hendiatris; for example;  "Sh*t, shave, shower" we recognise as a bloke getting ready for a night out. We're drawn to structures of three in writing, and in speech. Advertisers us it frequently. Remember what helps you "Work Rest and Play"? Even the structure of a short story or novel is broken into three elements; the beginning, middle and end.

This isn't restricted to writing either, on a plate chefs place items in groups of three as it's more aesthetically pleasing ( which isn't fun for me who likes symmetry and even numbers and am compelled to even things out manically while wondering why it doesn't look pretty). In art it's referred to as the Rule of Thirds.
What's so special about the number 3? I'm jiggered if I know. Maths is something which I can't quite grasp fully, but we seem hard wired to find the number 3 attractive. I'm saying nowt about threesomes though.
So  I'll leave you with this.


Colin Davies said...

It is well known that the third album is the most creative an often considered to be the defining moment in most bands musical life.

3's are everywhere however, we always prefer to count to 4. If 3 gives us beauty, 4 gives us rhythm.

Tuesday's and Wednesday's posts have been fantastic.

Thank you

Ashley R Lister said...

Hendiatris! OK. Now I have a name for it. Thank you.

Great post.