Of course, we’re all equal. But like George Orwell said in Animal Farm, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” History has proven that if you’re in the right crowd or have the right amount of money, you can pretty much do and say anything to anyone and get away with it. So it has always been; so it shall always be.
It shouldn’t be that way. It’s not right nor just, but that’s how the world works. Apparently. And never more so than if you are an artist. Ever since Caravaggio attempted to castrate Tomassoni with a sword, and oops! punctured his femoral artery instead, great artists, dancers, playwrights, singers, actors, actresses, etc. have insisted that they can’t be expected to comply with the rules-for-correct-behavior for “normal people” like you and me because they’re artists and geniuses.
So here’s my question: Waz up with that, Doc? Is it right? Or is it merely narcissistic chicanery?
Oddly enough, this article was inspired by Chef Eric Ripert’s autobiography 32 Yolks and by Chef Gordon Ramsay’s autobiography Roasting in Hell’s Kitchen. Both of them describe truly shocking physical and verbal abuse they suffered and/or observed perpetrated by legendary chefs who made their names as great artists. Food was their medium for culinary art that revolutionized the world of gastronomy. But their behavior was shockingly abusive.
In the pages of those books, we get an insight into the minds of these artists and how they cunningly and cold-bloodedly created environments where they could abuse with impunity. We see how they created a cult-like bubble to perpetrate abuse for the sake of abuse, even sabotaging their own success and profitability, while claiming the abuse was “necessary.”
Chef Ramsay describes his days working for Chef Marco Pierre White thusly:
We were all young and insecure, and [Marco] played on that.
A lot of us were guys with a lot of baggage.
Step 1: The abusive artist surrounds themselves only with people who are already vulnerable from years of practice in the fine art of accepting abuse without turning a hair. They neither react nor defend themselves and never, ever strike back.
Most of us Americans know Gordon Ramsay as the yelling, screaming, swearing, well-quiffed guy on Masterchef. But his growing-up years in an alcoholic home were so horrific, reading his autobiography gave me flashbacks — flashbacks to my husband’s unhappy childhood growing up with an alcoholic father much like Gordon’s. Gordon Ramsay says, “I was dealt a dysfunctional card.” That’s putting it mildly. But in his case, it inured him against the wild abuses of Chef White.
In Eric Ripert’s case, his parents’ rancorous divorce and an abusive step-father who knew how to twist Eric’s mind while also hiding the bruises on his body prepared him for the constant verbal abuse by Chef Joël Robuchon.
Both Gordon and Eric knew how to handle abuse. How to never react. They were perfect victims for artists with no intention of following the rules for proper human behavior, artists who purposely and intentionally surrounded themselves with catatonic abuse victims.
[Marco]’d find out about your home life while you stood there
peeling your asparagus or your baby potatoes.
Step 2: Gather ammunition. Pretend to be a friend to the friendless. Make it “safe” for them to spill their guts. Be a good listener; encourage the spillage. Ah, now you have something on them.
Then, four hours later, when you were in the middle of [dinner] service and you’d screwed up, he would say: ‘I fucking told you that you were a shit cook.
You can’t fucking roast a pigeon because you’re too busy
worrying about your mum and dad’s divorce.’
Step 3: I call this “clambering on the carcass.” All narcissists do it. They collect negative facts about others. Then, just when it’ll hurt the most, they stick in the filet knife and twist. What a boost to their false ego! Their victim is on the floor, blindsided, bleeding, gasping for air, while the narcissist’s jump up and down on their carcass, metaphorically speaking of course.
I’ve watched narcissists do this again and again. Like a spider in a lair, they wait, coiled, posed, patiently waiting for their “gotcha” moment. Perhaps they make dire predictions about you and then wait patiently for decades for their prediction to come true so they can crow “I told you so!” Perhaps they insouciantly listen, seemingly a safe place to share our innermost pains and insecurities. Then, at our lowest moment, they pounce using our pain and their predictions to destroy us in a moment of triumph glorying in their so-called superiority, cementing their power over us, jumping up and down on our carcass in narcissistic glee.
[Marco] picked up his knife, then he threw it down, then he grabbed me and put me up against the wall. It was almost like being back at home with Dad.
Maybe that’s how I was able to put up with it for so long.
Continued in Part 2. Please click here!