I find the word itself quite interesting and think about whoever came up with it first quite likely might’ve been a lateral thinker. Blanket. Etymology states that the word originates from the old French blanchet, literally meaning a white cloth. However, if I were to try and think in my own terms, a large portion of it is ‘blank’ and the rest ‘et’, which one can equate with ‘too’ when one goes by the ‘You too Brutus!” translation of the famous, ‘Et tu Brutus!”. So a blanket could be perceived as ‘blank too’ or ‘blank as well’! So to cover oneself in a blanket could literally mean to ‘blank oneself as well’. Now if that ain’t the purpose of sleep, then what is!? Well, one of the purposes of sleep. So in an ideal world, if one goes to bed covered in a blanket, one stands to blank one’s own self and sleep just the way nature intended.
While this assumption can be a very remote one, it is a very comforting one all the same. A blanket is one of the signifiers of one of the three very basic human needs, shelter. It for the duration of our sleep allows us to cocoon ourselves within a world of our own, which is intruded upon only by what we already have within our own self. Except for perhaps a lover, a spoilt pet or a distressed child, no one else is allowed to physically enter this world. A case could be made for a parent or a doctor, but that is only when one is in an emergency. And in an emergency all bets are off as such. In today’s day and age however, is that really the case? Half a century or so ago peoples’ lives were, materialistically speaking, bigger. They had bigger things to carry around physically, but were they as burdened within? Perhaps not. Today, our carry- ons are much more compact and far lighter but our baggages at the same time are heavier than ever. We have too many strings tying us entangled even when we so often believe in the ‘no strings attached’ adage more and more. We are burdened by so many opinions and judgments; the ones others have of us as well the ones we carry about others. We go round in circles of constancy. Perpetual vicious circles or perhaps vicious perpetual circles. Can’t really tell the difference. All, of our own creation. Bottomless scrolls. Endless swipes. The days of just the movie stars having screen lives are way past. We all live alarmingly increasing screen lives. Liking something for real used to be a physical experience, forming a visceral memory which could be triggered back by any of the senses. Now it is largely confined to being mostly a visual experience, with that moment cast into the seemingly eternal virtual memory, detached of the self and the senses. The screens, in other words, have blanketed our lives. But almost entirely differently from what a simple blanket is intended to do. We are blanketed, but we sleep lesser, in every sense of the word. The fault however is not of the screens, nor of the blanket and neither of the analogy. Even though something is definitely not right, I cannot help but wonder if there is actually a fault; if there’s anything or anyone to blame. After all, it is only us who can live our lives. No one or no one thing can live it for us.
As Trinity says to Neo, “It is the question that drives us.”
What is the question here?
Do you choose to let your blanket to blank-et?
Sambit Kumar Pradhan, Assistant Professor, School of Communication Design, Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID)
Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.