bookmark_borderJinmaku no Hara

For Pennsic, the Japanese-themed group we camp with, “Clan Yama Kaminari”, surrounds the camp with camp curtains called “jinmaku“. We typically refer to these as “windscreens”. Our camp is large, and these things don’t last forever, so we typically need to make one or two dozen new jinmaku every year to swap in for faded or otherwise damaged ones. Some time ago, I made some others to serve as personal curtains, or advertising banners for the Barony and Kingdom. For her birthday, I made my sweetie a couple of personal jinmaku.

Jinmaku in white over green
Jinmaku in white over purple

When we make them for camp, we make them in a “black over red” configuration. When I asked Hara Shonagon what colors she would want for personal jinmaku (without my committing to making them), she responded probably white/green or white/purple. Since she seemed undecided, I made one of each.

These are just cotton/poly fabric with webbing tabs at the top for hanging. I did put a lot of sewing into each one. Each has proper flat-felled seams for the top/bottom join, and a real hem at the top. The ones we make for clan spend most of the year locked up in a storage trailer, and only get used at Pennsic. We can use these whenever we want.

bookmark_border“Not Forever but for Now”, by Chuck Palahniuk

In an afterword, Chuck Palahniuk reveals that the story of this novel is meant to be an exploration of addiction and addictive behavior. While not as absorbing as some of Palahniuk’s other novels, I feel this one succeeds in its goal.

Unreliable narrators are par for the course in in Palahniuk’s works, and this novel is no exception. My favorites of his novels have narrators who are not unreliable because they are liars, but because they are honestly ignorant. In Fight Club, the narrator is ignorant of the true identity of Tyler Durden and his own feelings towards Marla. In Diary, the narrator has no idea what is really going on. In Rant, which is presented as a series of interviews, almost none of the speakers have the full picture and can only describe the parts they have personally witnessed.

In Not Forever but for Now, the narrator is unreliable for every reason imaginable. There are things he does not want to tell you. There are things he has not been told. There are things he has been told that are lies. There are things he has been told that are terrible truths. There are things he has just never noticed. The narrator is unreliable like a fish is wet. He is unreliable because “unreliable” is the nature of his environment.

If the nature of a story is that the main character goes through some kind of change, then in order for this narrator to change his entire environment must be unraveled and rebuilt. Every terrible truth must be told. Every lie must be exposed. Every villain must be defeated. Every addiction must be broken. The fish must learn to live in the desert.

I got through this novel still not being sure what was real in the narrator’s world and what was not. If this novel is about addiction, he has succeeded in kicking most of his bad habits, but it’s possible his essential nature has not changed. It’s possible that this was his true nature the whole time, and it has merely been allowed to surface. If so, it has had to fight its way up through such a sea of unreliability that it has been somewhat damaged. One set of addictions has been exchanged for another, and the narrator is still unreliable.

It is a disquieting tale, which is also par for the course in Palahniuk’s novels. Also, it has 68 chapters. Not nice.