Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Rule of Three

So, I was working up a curriculum for an upcoming gig teaching part of a writing seminar, and decided to go with The Rule of Three as the through-line. I might have mentioned it here before, but humans are passing fond of the number three. A very magic number.

How many men walk into a bar? How many wise men were there? Stooges? Number of bears who live in the cottage Goldilocks broke into? Musketeers? How many strikes in baseball? What is the biggest play in baseball? Most points for a single shot in basketball?

Three acts in a play. Three sources of conflict in a story. Three plots. Three ways to move a tale.
Three speeds of pacing.

What I tell you three times must be true.

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

And, of course, from The book of Armaments, Ch 4, v 20, regarding the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch:

Now did the Lord say, "First thou pullest the Holy Pin. Then thou must count to three. Three shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither shalt thou count two, excepting that thou then proceedeth to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the number of the counting, be reached, then lobbest thou the Holy Hand Grenade in the direction of thine foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it."

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

3 comments:

Carissa said...

"One, two, five--"

"Three, sir."

"--three!"

Tiel Aisha Ansari said...

"You have passed the first of three tests."

"Okay. What are the other" (pause) "two?"

from the graphic version of Color of Magic

J.D. Ray said...

Minimum number of legs on a stool to keep it standing? Minimum number of sides on a polygon? It seems that not only man, but Nature, loves threes.