A reader reminded me of my fondness for using foreign words in my writing. Probably the most egregious example shows up in my novel, The Trion Syndrome, where I used the German word Ungemmint which has no equivalent in English. The term means both unloving and unloved. It’s a quality born of evil which has no understanding of love.
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. Many things happened during the thirteen years I spent more time in combat in Vietnam than I did in the states. After the fall of Saigon, when I returned to the U.S., my memory was incomplete and faulty. Later, events 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, 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.