Oppression is defined as prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control. Oppression comes in many forms: racial oppression, misogyny, class oppression, and many other forms. Social oppression, a concept that describes a relationship of dominance and subordination between categories of people, causes one group of people to benefit from the systematic abuse, exploitation, and injustice of another group of people. Bigotry is one of the main causes of social oppression. Failing to tolerate those who form different opinions causes people to commit cruel acts. Evidence of bigotry and social oppression can be seen through the acts that the Nazis committed in the early 20th-century. Picasso’s Guernica (1937) was created during a time when Nazis reigned. He created this piece, reflecting his opposition to their actions. Guernica addresses the darkness and brutality that the Nazis represented. This theme is discussed in works by both Nietzsche and Fanon. Through Fanon’s examination of the superiority complex in Black Skin, White Masks and Nietzsche’s discussion of Apolline culture, I’ve discovered that there is always a party that designated themselves as the dominant culture, contributing to social oppression. Guernica (1937) was created to be part of the Spanish Pavilion at the International Exposition in Paris in 1937. Pablo Picasso’s motivation for painting the piece was the news of the German Nazi bombing of the Basque town, Guernica. Picasso had seen dramatic photos published in various newspapers, including the French newspaper L’Humanité (Reina, 1992). Guernica shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians (pablopicasso.org, 2017). The symbolism of the piece has been debated among historians. Two main identifiable features of the painting are the horse and the bull. The horse is situated in the center of the painting. It looks as though the horse is about to fall. You can only see the head of the horse, with its mouth open and the rest of its body is overlapped by other images, which form other images such as a human skull and other human beings (Spanish-art.org, 2011). The bull is depicted with a dark body and white head. The bull appears to be stunned or shocked at his surroundings. When asked about the significance and meaning behind the bull, Picasso said it signified brutality and darkness (pablopicasso.org, 2017). Picasso decided to use only black white and gray colors, which I believe adds to the theme of darkness that he is trying to portray in the piece. Nietzsche discussed three points in Birth of Tragedy that support this argument: 1) There are two realities: the reality of sensation which is physical and the reality of ideation which is illusory. “Men of philosophical disposition are known for their constant premonition that our everyday reality, too, is an illusion, hiding another, totally different kind of reality.” (Nietzsche, 347). 2) Illusion is a necessity of life and it makes life enjoyable. “This deep and happy sense of the necessity of dream experiences was expressed by the Greeks in the image of Apollo” (Nietzsche, 347). 3) The same drive that found its most complete representation in Apollo generated the whole Olympian world. “The same drive that found its most complete representation in mythical being (or the PI) also generated the realm of ideation, and, in this sense, we may consider mythical being to be the progenitor of that fictive world” (Nietzsche, 349). This means that man need to create and rely on the Olympian world to control our emotions and measure life’s meaning. Nietzsche uses the Greeks to support his argument. He believed that the Greeks needed to fashion Olympia and the gods to bear life and as a result they experienced the “terrors and horrors of existence”. “Now it is as if the Olympian magic mountain has opened before us and revealed its roots to us. The Greeks knew and felt the terror and horror of existence. That he might endure this terror at all, he had to interpose between himself and life the radiant dream-birth of the Olympians” (Nietzsche, 351). More than any other people, the Greeks, were susceptible to the perception of suffering, and so they were forced to create a particularly dazzling shield to ward it off, the Olympians. The Olympians are a transfiguring mirror for the Hellenic Will; they provide a theodicy and they justify human existence by living it in amplified, beautified form. Olympia, the illusion the Greeks created, was ideation and it became reality for the Greeks. They needed that illusion to make life acceptable and develop happiness. That illusion affected the way they viewed the world. They felt the need to be glorified and seen as figures of “superabundant life”. The illusions of the Greeks lead them to believe the gods in Olympia were superior to them. They believed they were not worthy of living without the gods, developing a mindset of inferiority. In Black Skin, White Masks, Fanon discusses the same issue. The inferiority complex is an intense feeling of inferiority, producing a personality characterized either by extreme restraint  or, as a result of overcompensation, by extreme aggressiveness. Social oppression, racism specifically, is the extreme aggressiveness that forced the inferiority complex onto Black people. According to Fanon, the white gaze determines how Black people are seen in the world (Fanon, 95). It does not matter what occupation the person has or the amount of education they have, they are only seen for the color of their skin. Black people are oppressed by whites who think they are superior and they justify their superiority by their possessions. “It color prejudice is nothing more than the unreasoning hatred of one race for another, the contempt of the stronger and richer people for those whom they consider inferior to themselves and the bitter resentment of those who are kept in subjection and are so frequently insulted. As colour is the most obvious outward manifestation of race, it has been made the criterion by which men are judged.” (Fanon, 97). Additionally, Fanon believes Black people do not even think of themselves as Black until a white racist society imposes that categorization. Humans just feel they are human until someone else comes along to say they are subhuman because they are “black men” rather than just men. It is when Black people have to encounter white people, and white people enforce that they are different from Black people, that a crippling sense of self-consciousness and self-doubt enters into their minds.


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