Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Threes are massing

I'm standing in my kitchen, talking to Ravyn over my shoulder. Not dreary, but me, at my kitchen window and Ravyn, perched at the table behind me.
It happens again. I see the threes. They've gathered in here for a month or so, quietly massing on the window sill, the countertops, the refrigerator and even outside on the patio table.
They are spirited here by the creature in my head who wants them. It is a subtle little beast, who creates threes by addition and subtraction--Three bottles collected here, but I broke the forth canister accidentally

I don't think about numbers outside of mathematics, normally. I don't think about numerology or astrology because, well, I just haven't gotten to those yet.
Recently I came across a copy of Ramsey Campbell's Eleven that has a thread of something I think is numerology. I see references to "meanings" of numbers and have a number (pun intended, sorry) of collectors who always request specific numbers for numbered editions and prints.

This is the third time (I'm not kidding) I've discovered flocks of threes. Each time before, I shoo'd them away. I went searching and disbanded others as I found them.
I'm not talking about arrangements of art on the walls or furniture groupings. Those are natural elements of design (which is another subject entirely.)
I'm talking about random groups of things that could be found in any other number. In this case they are:
Three bottles waiting for recycle
Three tins (of five) from Orion's party
Three steel ball magnets on the fridge (used the forth yesterday for the studio fridge)
Three rooting pencil cacti
Three tea cups (of seven)
Three potted herbs
Three narrow vases (I moved one last week)
Three canisters---minus one broken
And that's just the kitchen.
There are more, including threes of towels, paperclips, reading glasses, printer cartridges, bottled water, apples and yes, candy wrappers.

Third time's the charm?

As I type this I look out the office window. There are three crows in the tree past the fence.

I stand up to look at them and, with a great deal of flapping, they are gone.

Okay. I'm onto you three. Now what?

Do you think, now that I'm aware of them, they'll go away?



Jason Erik Lundberg said...

I know squat about numerology, but three has also popped up a lot in my life. Even moreso with seven, which I always want to spell se7en, even before the movie came out.

Keep up these wonderful entries, Lisa.

Gregg P. said...

Your post reminds me of "The Crying of Lot 49," by Thomas Pynchon. Wonderful book.

I think that once you begin looking for patterns, whatever they may be (groups of three, funny little trumpet symbols, virgin Mary faces in grilled cheese sandwiches, whatver...) you will find them everywhere. We are surrounded by ... bombarded by, data data data every waking (and often every sleeping) moment. Objects, imagery, movement, light, sound, feelings, IFNORMATION. Constantly around us.

And once you start specifically seeking out patterns they emerge, whatever it is you're seeking, simply because there's so much around to choose from and sift through. We ignore nearly everything our mionds perceive, because there is so much to perceive at any one moment. Things achieve significance in the process of seeking them out, even though they're all around you all the time.

Anonymous said...

speaking of threes....and religion....

father, son and holy ghost.....

"do you think, now that I'm aware of them, they'll go away?"

the answer, in a nutshell, "hell, no". To either.

Interestingly, "back in the day" when I was actually doing academic research for my PhD, "A Discourse Analysis of Direct Mail Letters".....this was a 'hot' topic for me. I had alot to say about it, tho' can't remember exactly what it was ;-)

oh, all right. let me distill the essence of the one chapter that will matter here; the attraction to "threes" is cultural, historical, wide-spread, long lasting (thousands of years and examples) and (essentially) (indo)European. For those reasons, and others, threes are incredibly emotionally satisfying, hence persuasive. Other cultures have developed other (similar) attractions for "four" (native American indian), "five" (Asian, mid eastern). But our attraction for "three" predates religion as we know it; the greeks (three fates) were there before us. The three little pigs, three bears, and "three wishes" all have long antecendents in folk mythology, and pre-christian religious ritual. The addiction to 'threes' goes beyond 'three strikes and you're out.' It's what Edward Hall would call part of our cultural assumptions, buried deep, deep, deep. In other words: triplets.

This is not like Doublets. Doublets are also fascinating, but have a more readily explanable source: repetition for effect "on and on, here and there, this and that" or conjunction "ham and eggs, chop and blend, sit and write"....beyond that, doublets became a feature of romance languages with the blending of norman french and early english/anglo saxon, and the need to make legal documents clear. Hence, "bequest and bequeath", "each and every", "pig and pork", "perspire and sweat"....i..e, equivalencies entering the language from both sources (too many examples to keep going here, you can get there yourself) often with connotations of 'high' or 'low' status language.

But threes are a whole 'nuther matter. Both doublets and triplets are repetitive and orally persuasive, hence excellent strategies for marketers, propagandists, and politicians. This is how I came to learn about them.

They are satisfying. they feel right. as in "going, going, gone". When examples are needed, to prove a point, or make an argument, 2 are too few, and 5 (for us) are too many. But just like the bears, three is "just right". [see my triplet of "marketers, propagandists, and politicians" to make the point] Twos and Fours are found in nature. Threes are not. But they are absolutely found in rhetoric, just read any speech. This is how we get to Aristotelian logic, the "syllogism" with 3 parts (the Asian Indian equivalent has 5 steps to their syllogistic argument), the structure to our stories (beginning, middle and end) and the cautionary "I told you once, I told you twice, now I'm telling you for the last time." Yep. Third time's a charm.

That's almost as good as "red, white and blue". "Up, down and sideways". Or, my personal favorite, "Kit, Kat and Kaboodle". Everyone start making your lists.

The creepy thing is, once you know they're see and hear them everywhere. Not just in your kitchen. They're in trilogies (books and movies), titles "The good, the bad and the ugly"...and of course, games of all sorts, slot machines (3 7s), and 'sets' of things of all descriptions, from mixing bowls to dress sizes "small, medium and large". Threes are functional, as well as magical. They cover the spectrum: short, average and tall. If an orthodox Jew wants a divorce, he/she has to say "I divorce you" three times. Want to start a race? "Ready, set, go". Why not "ready, set, only two more seconds now, go"? ;-)

Your "Wonder Trio" post-it note holder, designed for me in 2001. Why not four characters? or only 2? nope. You came up with a satisfying three: dragon, alien and mummy (f/sf/h).

Next time someone says "he whispered those three little words"....guess what you'll be thinking?


q said...

This also happened in the third month of our year. Not as crazy, but still another fun thing that goes along with it :)