The Good Guy by Dean Koontz
Dean Koontz has long explored human consciousness along the tension between the immanent world-reality and the transcendent, though you might not get that impression by reading contemporary reviews of his novels. While publishers and the public clamour for an exquisitely horrifying story -- which he inevitably provides -- Koontz’s interests lay in the ontological aspect of man, man as being. His workplace is the heart, intellect, and soul where he examines human consciousness in determining “its processes, its relation to other processes, and in the meditative intentio.”
Koontz shares with the great novelists an appreciation of the Judeo-Greek-Christian myth that “differentiate man’s image” in the world reality as one that exists in the “community in partnership with God.” And, though it has been derided and mocked by Western rationalists of every stripe, he is a champion of the consciousness that inculcates the “American” myth -- the hero who takes his stand in defense of the innocent and weak against men given over “to the dark side.”
In The Good Guy, Koontz examines the nature of courage in one Timothy Carrier, a gentleman who works his hands in stone and brick, and chooses to sit anonymously in the dark corner of a dimly lit bar. How Mr. Carrier’s courage is expressed “In a world that daily disconnects further from truth,” where our once prevalent grit and backbone have given way to a “touching trust in ‘experts,’” is the thesis of this novel. Courage then, is the abnegation of self in favor of the well being of others, it is the will to do Good no matter the cost. It is a unique condition in consciousness predicated on the concept of honor and strengthened by the nous -- the search for reason “under guidance of the attraction toward the transcendent.” One may participate in a courageous act, perhaps a reflective response to a situation, but it is a sustained courage, a life of courage, that interests the author.
Koontz is very much aware that ideological dogmatism has perverted reality. His readers understand this distortion and they know that he will provide them with characters who are concrete human beings, with men and women who seek the order of reality “in the existential tension toward the ground.” His is a developed and developing mythopoesis, an expression of the truth of things in a derailed society. As Albert Camus wrote concerning myths, “We shall choose Ithaca, the faithful land, frugal and audacious thought, lucid action, and the generosity of the man who understands.”
Courage, honour, love, and apodictical truth -- all elements of the Good -- are but one side of the equation that defines man’s dichotomous existence. As The Shadow famously asked,
“Who knows what Evil lurks in the heart of man?” And, it is Evil that both fascinates and appalls Koontz. In The Good Guy, the author introduces us to his latest villain, Mr. Krait, a man lacking a past, and given to sundry perversions. A killer for hire, who in his mind is not providing a service but rather bestowing “grace.” He is the parousiastic Gnostic dwelling in the “apeirontic depths,” seeking to re-create the world in his image that entails the obliteration of mankind. He is a walking postmodern distortion, a demonic blasphemer who remarks, “Once I accept the concept your selling, your world will be profoundly changed by my grace.”
In describing the essence of the antagonist Koontz writes, “Krait thrived on the fact that humankind could not bear much reality. When they retreated into wishful thinking, he approached, all but invisible because he was the reality that they refused to see.” Krait is that other world entity shrouded in fog. He is the creak on the stairs as we hover near sleep. He is the reprobate demon who enjoys “our seductive despair, the deeply settled hopelessness, the corrupting bitterness that gave no quarter to any optimist who might wish to debate this dark worldview.” Krait exemplifies, in extremis, the libido dominandi (original sin), the man who has suppressed reason and revelation and surrendered to Evil.
Koontz explains the inherent nature of the human drama when he writes, “For all the beauty and joy of life, the world is nonetheless a war zone.” In this novel, Koontz employs the symbols of the Hebrew-Greek-Christian myth because the myth is the medium of truth and, in so doing, bears witness to the distortions of the postmodern world. His acuity transcends his oft-praised talents as a storyteller. He exhibits a mastery of Platonic dialectics in his ability to explicate man’s conscious participation in the poles of metaleptic tension, between Good and Evil. And that, as the philosopher Eric Voegelin explained, “…is the proper domain of human thought-its inquiries, learning, and teaching.”