Photo by Prawny on Morgue File.
Blank. Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
Blank . . . how do you show blank?
It is impossible. As soon as you type anything, you have moved beyond blank. I suppose I could simply post a blank page. But such things would not go over well on a blog.
The word itself has a harsh, almost metallic sound to it. The hard nk sound on the end is rather harsh on the English linguistic palate. Not quite so hard as the Scottish ch, but rather harsh all the same.
The Semitic languages are more accustomed to harsher syllables and tones. German has its share of them too. But English, tends to be more soft, more aspirated utterances, more round in contour and easier to roll off the tongue.
But a word like blank has an Old World quality to it. It clangs and bangs in our mouth and in our delicate ears.
It paints a vivid picture in its resonance.
It echoes in the words that follow.
It catches our eye and stings our ears.
Even more, it leaves a hollowness in our imagination. A metallic aftertaste that lingers long after the literary context fades from memory.
We do find it in a few phrases.
For instance . . .
There are blank stares. Those can be shown. Stares that have no real object of their gaze. No beloved. No inspiring mountain range. No awe-filling tempest-tossed sea. Just a stare that seems to go for eternity—into the void, into the nothingness.
There is the proverbial blank slate. Or the Latin, tabula rasa. Are we born with a blank slate? Can we start over with a blank slate?
We use blank as a substitute for a sought-for answer. Such as, And the King of England at that time was BLANK. Sometimes, most times, we simply draw a line, like a fill-in-the-blank test. Such as, And the King of England at that time was _______.
We may have a blank look on our face. We may draw a blank. We may, well the wealthier amongst us anyway, write a blank check (or cheque, if you prefer!). Our minds may go blank. We may be a blank canvas.
It would seem then that blank-ness is a negative quality. It is deficient and lacking.
It is one thing for something to be empty. Like an empty plate after eating. Or an empty chair once one has risen from the table.
Something may be clear, in the sense of free from chaos or mess. This is usually seen as a good quality. The proverbial, the coast is clear. Or, all is clear. Or, it’s a clear path.
But, if something is blank, whether it be a canvas (thought normally not a literal one, you understand) or a mind or a stare or a check/cheque or a slate or anything else . . . the feeling is, it must be filled!
It simply cannot go on being blank. It would be unnatural. It would be contemptuous. It would be a failing of our task to simply leave a blank thing blank.
The word is harsh, not only to our ears; but also, to our thoughts and imaginations.
There is something foreboding about anything that continues on in its blank-ness.
Blanks have a semblance of absolutism to them. A need, even compulsion, to fill them at all costs.
It is better to stare and be thought immodest or impolite than to continue on with a blank stare. The one is against civil etiquette; but the latter is against nature.
Think on it for a bit . . . how often do people, who do not know the correct answer, simply leave the blank, blank?! Almost always (quite a phrase!) a person will write something in the blank, even if it’s unintelligible.
That is how blanks are. That is their hold upon us.
They incite us to action. They rouse us to do something.
If a person has a blank stare, we feel compelled to act. We feel we must shout at them, clap our hands, anything to bring them out of that catatonic state.
If our mind goes blank, we feel it compulsory that we feel it with something, anything at all!
It is almost as if we feel leaving something blank will lead to it being perpetually so. Something empty is assumed to be once again fill-able. Something clear, can at any moment become chaotic again.
But, something blank, we fear, may harden as stone and remain an everlasting monument to nothingness.
Well, I suppose I could say more . . . but suddenly, I’ve drawn a blank!