Several years ago, I blogged here about my novel The Trion Syndrome, the story of a Vietnam veteran with Post-Traumatic Stress Injury. I mentioned, among other things, my use of the archaic German word Ungemmint because we have no equivalent word in English. The term means both unloving and unloved. As the story told in Trion illustrates, the state of Ungemmint in human beings is the result of evil. Evil has no comprehension of love and, indeed, doesn’t even know it exists.
The protagonist of Trion, Dave Bell, a German scholar, applies the term to himself without knowing why. For reasons he can’t remember, he thinks he has lost his soul. Something happened while he was serving in Vietnam; he doesn’t remember what.
I used the concept of Ungeminnt because it describes my own feeling about myself. For me, many things happened during the thirteen years I was in and out of Vietnam. In the beginning, I couldn’t remember some of them. Later they came back to me, sometimes in dreams. I knew that if I ever wanted to be free of being haunted, I had to bring those events into my conscious memory, face them down, and learn to live with them. I had, in effect, to get my soul back.
For me and for Dave, my protagonist, it’s a life-long struggle. Dave is helped by his son. I’m helped by my writing. In telling Dave’s story, I confront my own past and find the remnants of peace.