4

The phrase is from the song "Remède" by Mass Hysteria - full lyrics available here: https://www.paroles-musique.com/eng/Mass_Hysteria-Remede-lyrics,p5760

Google translate offers up "What are the people who make us live this world dream?" and I have a sneaking suspicion that this is not exactly the right interpretation.

I'm an absolute beginner to French by the way.

  • 1
    It means "what do the people who make us live this world dream of?" - which, in the abstract, is quite cryptic even for a French speaker. – guillaume31 Dec 10 '18 at 12:44
  • @guillaume31 Merci pour la réponse! Cryptic indeed! – Darragh J Dec 10 '18 at 12:58
  • 3
    That's not quite right either, I think. There's some inversion going on. "What do those who bring the world to life for us dream of?" – Luke Sawczak Dec 10 '18 at 13:02
  • 1
    @LukeSawczak In an everchanging world, we could, I suppose, LIVE + a certain type of world. Also, perhaps, “une réalité”. – Montée de lait Dec 10 '18 at 13:34
  • 2
    @Montéedelait from what I have seen there is an element of Rastafari language and culture in Mass Hysteria's songs hence the "I and I will never feel alone" - "I and I" being a reference to the oneness of God and the person who believes in Him, Rastafari believing as they do in God residing within the person. Perhaps this sheds some light on the symbolism in this song and perhaps this phrase? I did not expect such a lively discussion on this question! – Darragh J Dec 11 '18 at 13:09
3

I’m going to chance an answer, but I offer no guarantee that it is the right one. It is based on my understanding of the lyrics. The words or grammatical structure, as far as I’m concerned, were not an issue, but the overall meaning of the song remained elusive, and was partly clarified by the person asking. So this was my disclaimer. Onward to the answer now.


First verse

The first one claim we can dramatically change our lives (our life and its vibe), though we may rightly doubt it (which force could make us believe it?). However, the consequence of ignoring temptation (to zip by it without stopping) is that we shall regret it later in life (these are the things, apparently, that haunt us later).

The millions

The description of the source of so much temptation in life: millions of other people like us, around us, men and women showing their Humanity every second.

The last line is a bit confusing for me, but has been clarified by the person asking, so I’ll stick to it. It is part of the Rastafari language and culture, embraced by Mass Hysteria. “I and I” refers to the oneness of God and the person believing in Him. Thus, I suppose, we are human, but also divine through God being within us. So “I and I” refers to me and God within me, and this person is awed by the multitude, and is feeling part of that multitude and cannot imagine ever feeling alone with so many interesting people and vibe around.

À quoi rêvent les personnes qui nous font vivre ce monde ?

A question arose when I tried to identify precisely who are the persons who make us live this world.

But what is this world anyway to begin with ? In English, according to Luke Sawczak, we can live a life or an experience, but to live a world would be unexpected. Though it is not the most commonly used complement to the verb in French either, it is nevertheless attested, and it is by no mean shocking to the French ear. Here are a few examples from the litterature :

Il est une onde pure, il est une clarté
Que la terre, aujourd'hui, refuse obstinément ;
Il ne vaut pas de vivre un monde sans beauté
Sans honneur, sans amour, mort, rongé par l'argent.
Coffrets étoilés, André Lebey, 1918

Va donc, autour de moi, l'homme chétif et blême,
Magnifique Univers, suis ton cours triomphal !
Tu ne m'écrases pas. Dès qu'il pense et qu'il aime,
Fier d'écouter aussi vivre un monde en lui-même,
L'atome te regarde et se sent ton égal !
—Georges Lafenestre (1837-1919)

Elle révèle, note Brook, « une manière de vivre un monde en situation de catastrophe sans perdre contact avec ce qui permet à l'homme de vivre et de se battre d’une manière positive ».
—Jean Mambrino, 1985

So this world that “we live” is simply the world as described in other parts of the song, that is, the world of millions, where temptation arises, and where “I and I will never feel alone”.

But who is or who are the instigators of this world, the persons making us “live this world”?

The answer is not simple. Based on the oneness of God, discussed earlier, I would conclude we are not looking at those beings outside of this world that created it but are separated from it altogether. Therefore, these persons are most likely the “millions d’hommes, de femmes”, qui “rayonnent” de “millions d’ondes en chaque seconde”. They inhabit the World, and that world would exist without them, but that world would not become this world without them actively shaping it the way it is. There’s a sense of synergy in the statement, but also a sense of the individual actors being one and one, being individuals that remain somewhat mysterious to “I and I” (aren’t we on a “collision-filled trajectory”, after all?), provocking the questionning: “What are THEY dreaming of?”.

Is the translation necessary after this? I don’t feel it will do justice to the line in particular, since it takes its full meaning within the context, for which I offered one possible explanation here above. So please excuse me for not supplying one.


Well, shortly after deciding not to supply a translation, Stéphane Gimenez proposed one in the comments below that seemed acceptable and fair to me, and allowed me to cite it. So here it is:

What do those who make us experience this world dream of?

The translation came with the following comments, that are just as carefully cautious as mine :~)

It isn't perfect but at least “experience” is something neutral between “enjoy” and “endure”. Now to narrow the gap, one can try to think about the difference between “experiencing” and “living” outside of any context, as unfortunately “live a world” is not quite idiomatic.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.