For two weeks, I supped from the devil’s bumhole—that is to say, I consumed a daily Starbucks latte in Stratford-upon-Avon (more fool I). What is it about Starbucks? The brand is peculiar because, for a time, around 1999, black-clad anarchists at anti-globalisation protests could nary resist the opportunity to put a brick through a Starbucks window—the brand, other than Gap, was practically a synecdoche for globalisation. At the same time, Starbucks manages to be progressive in its political orientation; it is among the most left-wing companies out there—somehow it always seems to me, when I enter one, that I have entered a progressive propaganda space (an equivalent to an anarchist commune with its “Stop animal torture” posters studded with fag-smoking Beagles).
Starbucks is a little piece of America, American soil like the US embassy, and America is progressive—so Starbucks is very progressive, just as an Italian cafe owner might have a cross on his wall, the local Starbucks has pictures of blobby multiracial coffee-drinkers on its walls (and an ad for its “Mermaids” transgender charity). Yet there are many American companies around the world, and they are not all as overtly progressive as Starbucks.
To deal with the iconography first: the Starbucks logo is a mermaid—a mutated mermaid, a mermaid with two tails. So the symbol is hermaphrodite, a distorted hermaphrodite (fish-woman; man-woman)—and this explains the brand’s affinity for the transgender cause, for “the mermaids” (with two tails, no less!). So we have in the Starbucks logo a mutated mythical creature—a creature known to lure sailors to their deaths. Mermaids are not always sinister, but if you look at the Starbucks mermaid you will find she has a mean face (she smiles, but the overall sensation, from a distance, remains sinister)—she is a sea witch. We have in the Starbucks logo an inversion of mythology and an inversion of the hermaphrodite (the symbolic priestly initiation made material and inverted).
Indeed, one Starbucks co-founder was involved with the Esalen Institute—came to be involved in its management; so there is a link with the quasi-mystical quasi-scientific ultra-progressive “religion of no religion” that dominates the West Coast. There is a religious element to Starbucks, for the consumption of drinks communally is a ceremony—and, indeed, per Ernst Jünger, tea is a spiritual drink (the Japanese tea ceremony) whereas coffee is about industry and materialism.
When I drink tea, I always feel calmer and more spiritual—when I drink coffee I have jitters and am ready to work, work, work. Thus coffee is the ideal drink for America, being a country devoted to Judeo-Puritan work, work, work—rise and grind (money, money, money). The Italians drink an espresso standing up—since coffee is not a drink for contemplation (as with tea); it is a drink to-go (“Can I get a mocha to-go?”—they don’t even say “please”, they “get” it). Unlike the Italians, the Americans do not drink coffee in prophylactic amounts, they chug it down semi-industrially—ready to “rise and grind” (like a randy dog humping a pillow—the American Way; masturbatory, sterile). Tea is aristo-spiritual, as with English and Japanese island-based tea-drinkers—coffee is feminine, commercial, and vulgar. Hence the Arabs, though great coffee-drinkers, originally banned coffee since the prophet did not consume it.
The Starbucks brand is feminine, the mermaid’s head being feminine—and, similarly, at Costa Coffee you will find that their stylised bean logo resembles a vagina (once you see it, you cannot unsee it). Obviously, coffee is a consumer indulgence—not an essential—and its apotheosis is the “pumpkin spice latte” (the butt of many semi-affectionate jokes each season, yet undoubtedly very popular among women). The whole pantomime of the modern coffee chain is suited to female narcissism, to make them spend more money. How so? It makes you feel special to order a semi-skimmed-oat-milk-pumpkin-spice-frappuccino-with-cinnamon-and-half-shot-of-espresso. “Do you feel special yet, m’am?”.
When men go to these coffee shops they instinctively hate the whole performance. “Err. I’d like a coffee, mate.” “Would that be grande or venti—regular milk or soy milk or oat milk or demi-skimmed almond milk?” “Err, a medium coffee, please.” Indeed, if you see a man who orders on behalf of his wife—outside, wrangling the kids in the pram while she talks to her “best friend”—you will see an exquisite act in attempted anti-narcissism: “For me wife…a…not sure if I’m saying this right, mate…almond…er spiced…latte…with (raises voice intonation slightly, *if can you believe this?*) goat’s milk…(if you have such a thing).” Barista, perky (as trained—ready to up-sell per touchscreen instructions): “Why, yes sir, now would that be with… etc etc.?”
The irony in this narcissistic commercial performance is that while men complain about it and attribute its vapidity to women, it was invented and is serviced by men—as with all these things. Invented to make money from female narcissism and sociability (a Starbucks with the girls—very Sex and the City). Starbucks started as a hustle for a few men, a hustle inflicted on the many—yet it is illustrative as to the way many things that men complain about that cater to female narcissism (Tinder is another example) were created by men in the first place. There’s always money in being *of service* to women…
Starbucks—Starbuck, the first mate of the Pequod from Moby-Dick. Originally, the founders flirted with calling it “Pequods”—until they realised “I got a cup of Pequods” sounded, somehow, wrong. It sounds masculine, actually—the word is too short and compact; and it sounds vaguely like the scene in Moby-Dick where the crew immerse themselves in tubs of whale spermaceti and squeeze squeeze squeeze—it has that stringy texture, just like man semen.
Anyway, they went for Starbuck instead—and what is his character in this world entire that is Moby-Dick? He is a cowardly conformist who doesn’t really agree with Captain Ahab’s quest for the whale but is unable to stand up to him—when he has the opportunity to kill Ahab, he demurs. So Starbucks is named after a cowardly conventional social conformist who is mainly concerned with his own prosperity. Starcucks. Well, doesn’t that sum up the whole Starbucks ethos? It is not so much that they are in the vanguard of progressive politics, rather they are the most conformist brand out there. So they support transgender issues, they back multiracial politics—they don’t stick their necks out, but they are solidly *there* in the way they conform to contemporary social mores. And, indeed, in Stratford-upon-Avon I was surrounded by pink-haired obese American tourists who wanted to talk about dick picks and their sexual identities—in other words, I was in American territory and with the most standard “first mate Starbuck” people you could imagine. Aye-aye, cap’n.
Moby-Dick is about the quest for God. The whale—the terrible whiteness of which cannot be overemphasised (white like spermaceti, white like the milk spume on your venti latte—white as the worm that flies to the blind eye in the night)—stands for God. Ahab pursues God beyond all reason. Starbuck does not want to pursue God, he wants to quietly make some money and get back to Nantucket and a hearty clam chowder with Betsy and the kids. So Starbucks coffee is for timorous people who are too afraid and self-interested to begin a mad quest for God—and that explains why the chain is the most mediocre of the mediocre, the blandest of the bland (like their coffee and food). Unleavened.
Moby-Dick is a great book aesthetically; however, its actual message is negative. Ahab is a monarch—a “mad monarch” driven by spiritual yearning—whereas Melville consistently praises democracy. Yea, kings are anointed with whale oil—the whaler participates in that great conspiracy against the people (and their pumpkin spice lattes). Moby-Dick’s message is that men who pursue God are mad and will destroy everyone in their quest for the divine—and that democracy is superior. Indeed, the book is written in the register of the King James Bible because it is devised to be an anti-Bible.
The Moby-Dick cult was started by leftist intellectuals in the 1930s—up until then, the book had been largely forgotten; and it was revived because it was democratic—a novel against fascism (Ahab is Hitler—he pursues Aryan whiteness). Hence the Starbucks coffee chain and Moby-Dick belong to each other; they signalise a mass feminine consumer society where to pursue the higher is “madness” and “evil”—and this is because Melville was a big homo, just like that other American poetical apostle of democracy, Walter Whitman. Here endeth the lesson.