The Symbolic Nature of Language – Olav Torheim, Red Ice

Olav Torheim is a Norwegian engineer and editor of Målmannen, a journal focusing on language, culture and politics. Torheim has a PhD in Physics and worked at different research institutions in France and Germany before returning to Norway two years ago. Using Målmannen as a platform, he tries to promote a traditional Nordic and European worldview. Olav joins us to speak about the symbolic nature of language, which he studied with professor Frode Jens Strømnes (1937-2012), who used experimental methods to discover that the human brain and its functioning is conditioned by mental imagery.

Olav describes his ground-breaking theories on language learning, which prove that different languages represent different mental geometries and, hence, different ways to see and conceptualize the world. The theory is opposed to the Universalist view promoted by linguistics, where all languages are seen as equivalent and, therefore, replaceable by other languages. He explains the unconscious building of mental models that occurs when children learn language, and the structural differences that exist amongst languages, such as vector vs. topological geometry.

We discuss how these variances in relating to the world spatially affect our world views and shape our cultures, information that is being lost as languages disappear. In the members hour, we look at how translations of Abrahamic religious texts can result in an alteration of the geometry of statements. We consider seemingly contradictory political ideologies that all converge on the point of egalitarian universalism – modern ideas that promote universal truths and break down cultural identities. Then, we examine the rapidly multiplying problems of mass immigration in Europe, the lack of attachment the migrant people have to their own culture, and radicalization that is the result of a lost sense of belonging. Olav gives some of the alarming statistics of what is happening to the native population in Norway. Further, we talk about our atomized society that is the product of mass consumerism, slavery to the system, and our loss of connection to each other. We consider the complimentary aspects of authority and freedom, the lie of liberalist independence, and our fear of leadership. We end with some thoughts about rich cultural traditions and ideologies that are being destroyed by modern man, the superficiality of “diversity,” and ways we can promote an awareness of the misleading idea of egalitarianism.



Olav Torheim’s exploration of “The Symbolic Nature of Language” likely delves into the ways in which language serves as a symbolic system for representing and communicating meaning. As a concept, the symbolic nature of language is central to various fields including linguistics, semiotics, and philosophy of language. Here’s how this concept might be approached:

1. **Symbols and Meaning**: Language relies on symbols—such as words, sounds, and gestures—that stand for or represent objects, concepts, or actions. These symbols are arbitrary in nature, meaning that there is no inherent connection between the symbol (e.g., the word “tree”) and its referent (an actual tree), but rather, the connection is established through convention and shared understanding within a linguistic community.

2. **Semiotics and Symbolic Systems**: The study of signs and symbols, known as semiotics, explores how meaning is created and conveyed through symbolic systems, including language, visual signs, and cultural symbols. Language is just one example of a symbolic system that humans use to communicate and make sense of the world.

3. **Cultural and Contextual Meaning**: The symbolic nature of language is deeply intertwined with culture and context. Words and phrases may carry layers of meaning, connotations, and cultural significance that go beyond their literal definitions. Understanding the symbolic meanings embedded in language requires an awareness of cultural norms, values, and historical contexts.

4. **Metaphor and Figurative Language**: Language often employs metaphor, analogy, and other forms of figurative language to convey abstract or complex ideas. Metaphors, for example, allow us to understand one concept in terms of another, drawing on shared cultural knowledge and experiences to enrich our understanding.

5. **Language and Identity**: Language can also be a powerful tool for expressing identity, belonging, and social identity. The words we use, the dialects we speak, and the languages we choose to communicate in are often deeply intertwined with our sense of self and our affiliations with particular social groups.

Olav Torheim’s exploration of the symbolic nature of language, particularly within the context of his work with Red Ice, may delve into these and other aspects of language as a complex and multifaceted symbolic system that shapes our perceptions, interactions, and understanding of the world.


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