day whatever of quarantine: i am going to write a paper analyzing Disney & Pixar's Onward (2020) through the writings of theodore kaczynski
Kacyznski's fundamental premise, as expressed in his Manifesto (1995), is that industrialized society has deprived modern man of the ability to engage in the power process.
The "power process" has four components, three of which are crucial: goal, effort, and attainment of goal. This is functionally indistinguishable from a classic quest narrative.
A central theme in Onward (2020) is that quests, and the freedom to engage in them, are a thing of the past. The Manticore, famed questgiver of yore, now manages what is effectively a Chuck E Cheese, .
In fact, the existence of "Quests of Yore", a Dungeons and Dragons equivalent, is a major plot point. This game is what Kaczynski would call a "surrogate activity"; a subpar stand-in for engagement in the power process (i.e., real quests)
Both Kaczynski and Onward (2020) highlight the disaffection and despair of the modern world, effected by our inability to engage in the power process/go on quests (the terms are equivalent). Technology has rendered such things obsolete and seemingly unattainable.
For Kaczynski, there is no hope for humanity but to abolish industrial society and return to an Edenic simplicity in which we are all free to go on quests. Onward (2020), however, is more optimistic. It argues implicitly that quests can never be wholly abolished by technology.
Thus Barley, who has heretofore buried himself in the surrogate activity of Quests of Yore, finds a real opportunity for engagement in the power process in the form of a real quest, bringing personal fulfillment.
Contra Kaczynski, then, Onward (2020) argues that the power process remains an essential part of our world, and those who are attuned to the opportunity will continue to find real quests. This is, of course, escapist fantasy; capitalism has abolished quests.
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