THE BLOG
01/30/2015 10:41 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Pornosophy: Moby-Dick vs. The Humpty Dance, an Essay in Comparative Nonsense

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"Call me Ishmael" is the famous opening line of Melville's Moby-Dick. "My name is Humpty" is a defining moment in Digital Underground's Humpty Dance. The syntactical parallel is not without significance since both works of art are inured in phallic imagery. What better symbol of phallic worship than a novel titled Moby-Dick about a big white whale. Similarly when Shock G cries "I once got busy in a Burger King bathroom," he is making no secret about the fact that he enjoys employing his penis. He enjoys employing it so much that he will do so even in inappropriate situations. Ahab might also be said to indulge in edgy behavior in the pursuit of his obsession, in that he puts not only his life, but the lives of his crew in danger as he gives chase to the whale. Maybe he doesn't go so far as Humpty Hump when it comes to being caught with his pants down. However he certainly goes after Moby in nature's bathroom, the ocean, where his vaunted whale resides.

It's important to remember that Melville and Digital Underground are storytellers at heart. The phallus is both an object of worship as well as narrative device to the extent that both are intent on telling a whale of a tale. It should also be noted that that in terms of classical dream interpretation, the whale is a symbol of snot. When children are reprimanded for picking their noses, their parents or teachers attempt to embarrass them by asking if they have caught a whale. And in the famous "Humpty Dance" video, Humpty Hump's overly large nose has a whale like capacity for mucus. The nose lays like a dark cloud over the rest of the video, to the extent that it threatens to unleash its contents on his crowd of admirers.

Etching of Joseph O. Eaton's portrait of Herman Melville