Friday, July 24, 2009

Connecting By Numbers (or FOUR!, part 2...)

(photos by Jason Evans)

This morning I was thinking (or, for those of you who follow my personality theory posts, intuiting) about numbers.

I've always loved numbers. They fascinate me. Each has it's own personality or vibe (in my mind, anyway.) For example, I've always loved 3 and 7-- they are the most magical numbers. And my favorite number when I was a child was 8. Because it is so symmetrical, so balanced. (Not to mention how cool it is that if you lay it on it's side it is infinity!)

But this morning I was reflecting on the significance of 4. I don't remember ever being "taken with" 4. It just had a vibe of solid integrity. Nothing flashy or magical. So I surprised myself as my intuiting led me to some interesting observations about 4. No wonder 4 always felt simply solid-- it is solid. Four creates a base, a square. And each part of the four is necessary for the integrity of the foundation. Take one away and you are left with 3-- a triangle. Triangles are mighty tricky to keep balanced. (Precisely why 3 is so's dynamic!)

Anyway, to continue on my dissertation of 4, I (naturally) began thinking of all the 4's I know. There are four elements, four seasons, four Hogwarts houses (you knew I'd go there), four Beatles(!), four temperaments, and... (drumroll)... four cognitive functions in personality theory. Yes! There's the connection! Perhaps because we have four basic ways of thinking, we find four is the number necessary for balance. Now, let me try to put my intuition into words.

The four cognitive functions are thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuiting. We each have a dominant-- our strength. Personality experts tell us that we should not strive to achieve balance by improving our skills in the three non-dominant functions to a level that equals our dominant, because that would leave us without a strength, or a core personality. But, (here's where my love of finding evolutionary connections comes in) to survive as a group, we need the strengths that each cognitive function offers. Perhaps this is why we have evolved different personality types. To ensure that among the group there are some gifted in Thinking, some gifted in Feeling, and others gifted in Sensing and Intuiting. We need specialists. So that when we put those four cognitive strengths together, we have a solid base.

I can see how, as an Idealist, I need to have input from a Rational to keep my visions realistic and logical, otherwise my visions will never have purpose or be useful to others. I need a Guardian to ground me in priorities and integrity, otherwise I can place too much selfish importance in my desires. And, I need an Artisan to remind me that it's important to experience joy from the carefree, playful aspects of life, otherwise my life will become too serious and heavy. A world of Idealists would feel wonderful to me, but it would be a very weak community, indeed!

Personality theory expert Lenore Thomson says, "fourfold schemes in popular culture…seem archetypally perfect and become part of our social mythology. They appear to represent psychological wholeness in ways that we intuitively recognize." She pointed out that the Beatles are comprised of representatives of each of the four functions: John is the acerbic Thinker, George is the mystical Intuitive, Paul is the romantic Feeler, and Ringo is the earthy Sensation type. And I can find the same balance in the four Hogwarts houses: the Idealist Gryffindors, the Rational Ravenclaws, the Guardian Hufflepuffs, and the Artisan Slytherins. Perhaps this is why these pop culture phenomenon have such global appeal. Everyone can relate to one of the four. And all four pieces are necessary for a balanced whole.

My dominant intuitive function is humming happily today...

(But, with no disregard to 4, I still love my favorite warm, yellow, soulful 7 over there....)


chris eldin said...

So creative and artistic!! I love what you did with these bland instruments, the numbers, making them come alive!!

JaneyV said...

My daughter asked me today "what's your thing?" And by that she wanted to know what I excelled at in school. I told her that I loved maths. It wasn't necessarily my 'thing' but I was exceptionally good at it and I loved the logic, the puzzles and the beauty of it. It was what I scored consistently best at. But I also loved drama and art and science. The fact is I was an all rounder. But I have always loved numbers. According to my birthday my number according to chinese numerology is 7 and my husband's is 2. I come from a family of 7 children and I have always been drawn to that number. As you say, it feels magic. My anniversary is 27th of April. We actually picked April 26th as our wedding day but there wasn't a space left. So in many ways the date picked us. 2 for Hubby and 7 for me. Perhaps the 4 representing April is representative of that solid base, that perfect foundation for the stability of our relationship. My rational Husband would tell be that's tosh but my instincts tell me the perfection of the connections speak otherwise.

I'll just quickly tell you that I always thought I'd have 3 children. When Big Son and Daughter were born, Hubby and I decided that was it. We were done. Then six years after daughter, Small Son was conceived. We still can't figure out how! But he came along, determined and absolutely perfectly placed as the number 3 I always felt I would have. It's telling that my Hubby was a third and unexpected child who came 6 years after his brother and weighed in at 7lbs 4oz - just like Small Son. He also is the living spit of him.

Mirror images, symmetry and a dash of serendipity. My kind if numerology,

Aine said...

Chris~ I like your reaction! Sometimes I think my mind works in very warped ways, so I like hearing "creative" and "artistic"! :D

Janey~ Oh, Janey!! I can't begin to express how wonderfully validating your comment was. To know that there is another person on the planet who thinks this way... squee!

And, how perfect are the numbers in your life!? I love it! So now that you've got me sharing: my birthday is July 7 and Jason's is January 3. I knew it was a magical match right from the beginning. My best birthday ever was when I turned 9 on 7/7/77, though 7/7/07 almost topped that when there were rumors that Deathly Hallows (7th book!) might be released on that date, alas....

Unknown said...

I remember the day of your 9th birthday Aine, because I was traveling with my dad in Europe, and we commented on the 7/7/77-ness of the day.

It's funny you posted this, because I was just intuiting about numbers in poetry forms. How placement of accent marks on certain syllables give a distinctive rhythmic feel to a form.

Because your an idealist, I'm sure you see the connection. ;-) I think a world of all idealists would be a hell like no other. Viva la difference!

Charles Gramlich said...

You should read Wayne Allen Sallee's stuff on the four sticks. 11.11 They crop up all the time in my life.

Rick said...

So, you will get around to commenting on letters, won't you?

Sarah Hina said...

This was just a great post, Aine. Loved it all around!! :)

I've been taken with numbers before, too, though my weaker intuition doesn't lead me to make as many wonderful connections as you (4 IS an awesome number!). I actually (and embarrassingly) have a somewhat OCD brain when it comes to counting the words in people's sentences (not all the time, gratefully). And I've been known to count my steps, too. There were certain numbers that would make me happier to end on than others. 13, surprisingly enough, was always high up there.

I've marveled before at what you touched on here. How, even though it seems there are so many problems and conflicts in the world, it's actually rather remarkable that society runs as smoothly as it does. I'm with Cat--a world of idealists would likely be a bloody mess! :P There is a precious stability to 4 (well, the Beatles DID break up, but not until a lot of great music came to pass!).

I guess we need those Slytherins, after all. ;)

Aine said...

Catvibe~ :) A poem can undulate or dance, can't it? And each has it's own vibe. Yes!

Charles~ Sounds interesting, I'll have to check that out. I had a college roommate who never failed to notice when the time was 11:11. I'm not sure what she thought it meant, though.

Rick~ Welcome! Sorry, letters just don't do it for me...only numbers. Hmmm, I wonder what that says about me?

Sarah~ Thanks! (for the praise and the "Sarah insights!") Wow, to count the words in spoken (I assume that's what you meant) sentences must take some mighty brainpower. I'm impressed!

I've counted steps at times, too. Not in an OCD manner, but when there was some reason, such as how many steps we climbed to reach the top of Notre Dame's bell tower. :)

I've also always attached a personality or vibe to phone numbers (especially when I was a teenager and had the numbers of so many friends memorized).

I'm not surprised by your attraction to 13. ;) Friday the 13th never meant anything to me, but I loved Saturday the 14th-- it just always felt lucky to me... weird!

Yes...I suppose we need to embrace Slytherins...with caution, though! :P

Vesper said...

I've always loved mathematics and found that numbers have a special magic, a roundness or a sharpness that gives a different significance to each of them. I love your thoughts on this - this is a beautiful post!

Anonymous said...

I can see the strength of 4, now that you describe it. :)

I don't have the same taste for numerology, but I've always liked that my birthday falls on a 3. And my first get away vacation as as adult encompassed 8/8/88. I always liked that too!

laughingwolf said...

good stuff, aine...

many chinese detest the number 4, since it is pronounced similarly to their word for 'death', and will not live in a home which is or totals 4, unless balanced by number 8, their number for good luck...

despite two 4s totaling 8

3 is the magickal number in the occult, and i gravitate to it

Ed Meers said...

A very interesting and stimulating read. It's amazing when we view the works of great minds who have widdled our universe into numerical formulae, especially when one explores the more esoteric aspects of this. The whole concept of binary logic has fascinated me - just mind blowing what theories have been born of studying such things!

SzélsőFa said...

interesting and well grounded is the concept of four being the most balanced number and most attractive to most of us....
in fact, I always preferred 5 to 4 for some reason :)
and also, I'm so stealing your 4 thingy meme.
hope you don't mind.

Aine said...

Vesper~ Thanks! Roundness and sharpness--I like that!

Jason~ Your 3 and my 7 make us quite magical indeed! ;) Wish I had a special memory of 8/8/88-- perhaps I did once, but you know my memory... :P

Laughingwolf~ Thanks for that fascinating info about how the Chinese feel about 4!

I wonder how Chinese kids feel when they read the first line of Harry Potter: "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number 4, Privet Drive..." Talk about an omen or foreshadowing!!

Minister~ Ain't it true!? And aren't we so lucky to have the luxury, as a society, to spend time and energy on such pursuits...
So, is logic manmade or natural order?

Szelsofa~ Five, eh? That's really interesting. I can't say I've ever felt much of anything for 5. But then, 5 doesn't seem to have any significance in my life. Not that I can think of, anyway... ;)

Absolutely take the meme!! (I stole it from others, too...) I'll be over soon to check out yours!

Jayant said...

I have never had such an insight into the numbers. Mathematics had been my favorite subject in school and I do try to find out mathematics in the day to day things of life. I like to break things down in terms of numbers, assigning time to each task that I am supposed to do, etc.

However, I had put a lid on all those thoughts for the past few years and reading your blog made me think seriously about letting my imagination free.
I'm blogrolling you...

laughingwolf said...

i don't think most chinese kids feel the way their parents do, aine :)

jaz said...

This is fascinating, Aine. your post and Sarah's OCD commment have me thinking about the time of my parents' divorce--I was seven (that number doesn't seem so magical to me!) and all of a sudden I had to do things in fours. For example, I had four things I had to say to my mom at night--something like, "Good night, I love you, I'll see you in the morning" and some 4th thing that I can't remember, and I had to say them all four times to her before she disappeared after tucking me in. In wonder if there was some (futile) search to restore a foundation, to get a solid footing going on there...

In any case, I like the way your mind works!

Hope you're having a great summer!!

Aine said...

Jayant~ Welcome! Please do let your imagination run free! I find that if you block those delightful thoughts, you lose the magic of youth too soon.

Laughingwolf~ I see, it's part of the "old way" of thinking, then.

Jennifer~ **waving** Hi there!! Good to see you! :)

Wow-- those are some fascinating observations/insights about your childhood. Your choice of coping mechanism really feels familiar-- like something I would've done, too. (So sorry about the associations that 7 holds for you.)

I had a similar superstition (as I've always called it) when I was a child. If my mother didn't tuck me in, saying the right set of "good nights" and "I love yous", I feared I'd have trouble falling asleep. I needed such a strong sense of security. And I wasn't dealing with a divorce situation... I can only imagine what I would require in such a frightening situation!

I am having a great (though busy) summer! Hope you are, too!

Sarah Hina said...

Aine, I did the same thing. I had a certain order that my mom and I had to exchange "good night," "I love you," and "sweet dreams." It just felt right. And, as you said, secure.

Anyway, I've enjoyed reading through the comment section on this post! :)

Aine said...

Sarah~ :D What can I say? Great minds...

This is why I love you and all my blogging buddies that make me feel a bit (okay, a lot) less odd. ;)

Richa Kapoor said...

woww..amazed by the profound manner in which u've explained the significance of nos..n now i know why i like no 8 so up the good work..cheers..:)