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System of a Down: Ego Brain Meaning


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Life is but a dream,
Drifting on a stream, a stream,
Consciously it seems,
All of what remains,
Ego Brain,
And they shame,
Shame, love after it rains,
You see my pain is real,
Watch my world dissolve,
And pretend that none of us see the...


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    Oct 6th, 2009 10:14am report

    I think this song actually isn't about politics. Yeah, I know, a strange concept for a System of a Down song, but bear with me.

    "Life is but a dream
    Drifting on a stream, a stream
    Consciously it seems
    All of what remains"

    Our lives are carefree and easygoing, no problems now, but, although it seems like everything is fine there are problems and, eventually, we all must face them.

    [Skipping the chorus for now]

    "I am but a man
    Fighting other men for land, for land
    While I turn to sand
    In spite of the pain"

    Then we see the world as it is: harsh and full of war. We're hurting ourselves to no avail, alas it is man's nature to kill one another. This stanza leads right into the chorus...

    "Ego brain
    Man-made shame
    Shame, love after it rains"

    Here we declare man's egotistical nature and what a shame it is.

    "You see my pain is real
    Watch my world dissolve
    And pretend none of us see the fall"

    And when you're desperate because of the self-destructive nature of man, we're all too caught up with our own ego to help those around us, so we simply ignore the pain and suffering.

    "As I turn to sand
    You took me by the hand
    And declare that love prevails over all"

    And then someone does the right thing, and then we realize that what we're doing is all wrong. Why fight and spread hate when we can cooperate? Even the deepest chasms can be overcome because love prevails over all.

    Considering the moving power-ballad style of the song, these potent lyrics about mankind not only spread a powerful message, they form one of the best songs ever created, in my opinion.


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    Jan 22nd, 2009 1:28am report

    Ego Brain at the most general level is about how our modern lives are unsustainable, precariously balanced on a system entirely reliant on non-renewable resources. Eventually this system will break down, leaving no replacement for itself.

    "Life is but a dream,
    Drifting on a stream, a stream,
    Consciously it seems,
    All of what remains,"

    "Ego Brain" itself refers to the self-centered nature of man. "Man made shame, love after it rains" could be referring to the notion that mankind has sown these seeds of destruction, and that no one will care until after disaster has struck.
    Because no one is willing to admit there is a problem, life as we know it will crumble. The problem is real, we all know the problem exists, yet we choose to ignore it:

    "You see my pain is real,
    Watch my world dissolve,
    And pretend that none of us see the Fall,"

    "As I turn to sand" refers to man's eventual self-destruction.
    "You took me by the hand" is an extremely ambiguous line; it most likely refers to a "savior" of mankind, perhaps referring to religion maintaining order when civilization breaks down. Alternatively, "you" could be referring to the main cause of the problem; big corporations, big governments, the "system" which keeps the rest of humanity under their thumb in the name of profits and power. Rather than using that power to avert disaster, they use their power to simply sedate the population for its impending euthanasia, distracting it with meaningless rhetoric, such as "love prevails over all".

    "I am just a man,
    Fighting other men,
    For land, for land,
    While I turn to sand,
    In spite of the pain"

    This passage is referring once again to mankind's destructive nature, this time naming war, rather than over-consumption through rampant consumerism. Despite the destruction wreaked upon not just ourselves but the planet as well, humans have not stopped fighting.

    This is a general interpretation of the song, the lyrics may hold completely different intended meanings, or specific passages may hold more specific meaning, referring to specific people and events, but this is what I've made of it.


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    Apr 25th, 2012 4:28pm report

    "Life is but a dream drifting on a stream"
    Physical life is only a dream for our souls.
    "Consciously it seems..."
    Self explanatory, life only seems to be conscious but...
    "All of what remains Ego brain, man made shame, Shame love after it rains"
    All that's left of the loving intention of our life and free will is the ego brain.
    "You see my pain is real
    Watch my world dissolve
    And pretend that none of us see the Fall
    As I turn to sand
    You took me by the hand
    And declared, that love prevails over all."
    The pain on this plane seems so real as we watch everything go to hell, while also being ignorant of the fact, and as he turns sand, our creator takes him by the hand and lets him know that love prevails over all, even over the pain of the world dissolving.
    "I am just a man
    Fighting other men
    For land, for land"
    Another ego reference, referring to the pointless fight over resources to feed our egos and greed when the reality is we don't own the land, no one does.


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    Nov 9th, 2011 11:15am report

    The song is about how a person believes that their worldly concerns and pursuits are real and significant. These worldly concerns are-simply put- anything that is apart from love-not just romantic love, but pure spiritual love that transcends anything. Its saying that all these things are insignificant and all the pain and destruction that they cause can be transcended and also appear insignificant if a person can become free from their own illusions(their "ego brain")and see that love and loving Spirit are real and their other concerns are "a dream."


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    Mar 17th, 2010 3:59pm report

    I think this song is about foolish pursuits, stemming from mans' vanity. Instead of following the natural good things we are privy to since birth, such as life and love, man insists instead on creating politics, war, and man-made interests that further are distancing from what we should really concentrate on. Life is to short to create added problems for ourselves: "Life is but a stream, drifting on a dream". Life is fleeting, and nebulous, to be enjoyed as we float down it, and pass into afterlife. Man's ego gets in the way of this natural flow, and we eschew love, peace, and natural concerns for things that we invent, and THINK are important, hence he man-made shame.These manmade concerns bring pain, as people die or fight for causes they don't fully understand or believe in. These causes become transparent, as people see they are fighting for a bullshit cause (could be oil or religion). THis is where their view of the world dissolves. But they have supported this cause, so they have to believe that none of them see it falling, revealed as a falsehood, since the fought for and believed in it.THe sand line could refer to death from war (dust to dust), or to becoming pliable an open to the truth once false prophets are revealed.And in this pliable state, putty in the hands, a woman brings the truth that love and natural human concerns trump the bullshit politics and war. Love prevails. Then we revisit the idea of war in "I am just a man, fighting other men, for land, for land". This is kinda my take on it, anyways. I think it is a message that man's need for ego and cause will trump the natural blessings we enter this world with; we will always get in the way of our own happiness.


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    Mar 19th, 2009 3:52am report

    i think this song is about a man who try to find his self-existence an the meaning of life by social experience, maybe a relationship.
    but what he found, maybe after being betrayed or being used by others, that human doing things based on their ego, even for those things they said the done in the name of love. People are living in sins an keep doing it, and in fact human being is a realist being, their nature to be egoist and fight other for power, either there is love or not.
    he just then feel the value, feeling, norms are just a dream and feels empty


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    Apr 12th, 2008 4:17pm report

    You're both wrong. It's about how we go through the dream of life, then suddenly the fall of humanity (aka Rapture) begins. No one wants to believe it's really happening ("and pretend that none of us see the fall"). In the Rapture the people who would be taken into heaven would be taken body and soul (which can sometimes be interpreted as they turn to dust or sand)


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    May 9th, 2007 5:35pm report

    You are wrong it is thetawaves which doesn't have to do with your plotline then roulete which probably is like how people go out with others and don't really love them as in the verse,"I don't know how I feel when I'm around you."

    The next song is streamline which probably means a friend or something like that leaves or dies and the other person is trying to convince the friend to stay. But don't listen to me I'm a budding rockstar ;)


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    Jan 16th, 2007 1:43pm report

    This is part one of three which goes as following,
    1. Ego Brain 2. Roulette 3. Streamline, because they're in order on the album. Get it? Good.

    Ego Brain is about this guy, he's basically in a philosophy debate(life is like a dream, drifting on a stream), then, he meets this girl and she turns this guy's world upside down(As I turn to sand you took me by the hand...) showing him the world isn't just about finding the meaning(watch my world dissolve). Which leads up to roulette.

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