III. Information File

III. The Rule of Three

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+ Three is the largest number written with as many lines as the number represents

+ Evolution of the number 3 

In Mathematics: 
+ Number 3 is closest to pi
+ Three is the first odd prime number
+ Pythagoras: the number 3 is called triad: noblest of all digits = only number to equal the sum of all the terms below it / only number whose sum with those below equals the product of them and itself. 

In Science: 
+ Atomic number of lithium 
+ Number of dimensions that humans can perceive
+ Triangle is the most stable/physical shape - widely used in construction/engineering and design 
+ Human eye perceives colors: trichromatic: three types of color receptor cells or cones

In Philosophy: 
+ Threefold division: trichotomies by Aquinas, Kant, Hegel, and C.S. Peirce

In Religion: 
+ In Christianity: trinity, devil tempted Jesus three times, Saint Peter denied Jesus three times and affirmed his faith three times, Magi gave Jesus three gifts. 
+ In Judaism: Three patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob), three divisions of written Torah: Torah, Nevi'im, Ketuvim, three daily prayers, three shabbat meals, three cardinal sins: idolatry, murder, sexual immorality. Soul consists of three parts: nefesh, ruach, and neshamah. 
+ In Buddhism: Triple Bodhi (ways to understand the end of birth): Budhu, Pasebudhu and Mahaarahath
+ In Hinduism: Trimurti: Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Perserver, and Shiva the Destroyer. Three Gunas underlie action: Vedic system of knowledge. Three Yogas: three paths for human spirit to achieve union with God: Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga. 



"The rule of three is a writing principle that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. The reader or audience of this form of text is also more likely to consume information if it is written in groups of threes. From slogans ("Go, fight, win!") to films, many things are structured in threes. Examples include The Three Stooges, Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats Gruff, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and the Three Musketeers."


+ Called a Comic Triple - three is lowest number needed to "establish a pattern" 
+ Third element to "throw people off track" and make audience laugh 


Storytelling: triplets or structures of three parts
    + Beginning, middle and end 

Examples of Rule of Three in Fairytales: typically three tasks to achieve goal
+ Rumpelstiltskin: makes heroine guess his name three times
+ East of the Sun and West of the moon: heroine receives three gifts, use gifts three times to rescue her husband 
+ The Silent Princess: prince breaks pitcher three times
+ Three Blind Mice

Examples of Rule in Three in Literature: 
+ Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol - Scrooge is visited by The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas present, and The Ghost of Christmas yet to Come. 


Our Masters' Voices by Max Atkinson: 
+ Claptraps: three part phrases which invite applause from the audience 

Martin Luther King Jr.: 
+ "Non-Violence and Racial Justice" speech
    + "Insult, injustice and exploitation" 
    + "Justice, good will and brotherhood." 


+ "Read, steady, go!" 
+ "Lights. Camera. Action!" 
+ "Veni, vidi, vici." 

Sources: 12



Christianity and Three

+ Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit 

+ Noah had three sons 
+ David "bowed down before Jonathan three times" 
+ Daniel regularly prayed three times a day
+ Jesus went through Satan's threefold temptation by citing three scriptural passages
+ Three wise men 
+ Jesus was resurrected after three days [1]

Buddhism and Three

+ Three Poisons: greed, anger and ignorance : Cause of suffering [2]
+ Three Marks of Existence: Impermanence, Insubstantiality (not self), Frustration/suffering : Recognize: gain wisdom [3]

Source 123





Golden Ratio


+ Spiral is found in nature (shells, horns, flowers) 
+ Find the Golden ratio to be pleasing to the eye (fashion models have abundance of 1.618 ratio) [1]




15 Uncanny Examples of the Golden Ratio in Nature     15 Uncanny Examples of the Golden Ratio in Nature


Source: 12


Visual Arts


"The rule of thirds is a principle of the Golden ratio with broad application as a "rule of thumb" or guideline which applies to the process of composing visual images such as designs, films, paintings, and photographs. The guideline proposes according to the principle of the Golden section search that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections. Proponents of the technique claim that aligning a subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centering the subject." [1]

+ Art: odd number of focal points - more "aesthetically pleasing" [2]

First mentions of Rule of Thirds:

John Thomas Smith (1797) Remarks on Rural Scenery - quotations of Sir Joshua Renalds and his discussion of light and dark in a painting. 

"For example, in a design of landscape, to determine the sky at about two-thirds ; or else at about one-third, so that the material objects might occupy the other two : Again, two thirds of one element, (as of water) to one third of another element (as of land); and then both together to make but one third of the picture, of which the two other thirds should go for the sky and aerial perspectives." [1]

Visual Examples 













Source 123




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