Oslo-based design student Simen Royseland has published a zine called Enchiridion, inspired by the ancient Greek philosophy Stoicism – a philosophy of personal ethics informed by a system of logic and views on the natural world. “I was trying to get a sense of my own interpretation of its ideas, and then came upon the concept of Enchiridion – a small book containing condensed information on a subject – and it kinda became obvious I had to make my own,” says Simen on his inspiration for the project.
The original Enchiridion, was compiled by Arrian, a 2nd Century disciple of the Greek philosopher Epictetus and is a compilation of “practical precepts”, applying philosophy to daily life, with one of the main themes advising that “one should accept what happens”.
The content for Simen’s interpretation has been written primarily by the designer, while “borrowing heavily from smart people ranging from Epictetus to Carl Sagan”. In the same vein the designer has created the bold graphics himself but has pulled elements and images from his bank of internet references.
“At first glance, Stoicism might seem to rest upon some naive – almost banal – ideas, but I believe there is a hidden depth to the school of thought, and this is something I wanted to use as a concept in the design process. I tried to make the typesetting and layout as simple as I could, almost non-hierarchical,” says Simen on the design. “When I started out I wanted to only use white space and underlining as a way to differentiate the important bits, but found that it made sense to enclose sentences where they were not necessarily dependent on the rest of the text. As such, the Enchiridion can be read as long-form text, or one can quickly leaf through the book if you’re only looking for some inspirational quotes.”
Other quotes have their own spreads and by doing this Simen keeps the pace of the zine varied, maintaining readers’ engagement.. The use of contrasts also helps with this and is achieved through Simen visually linking ancient philosophy and “ancient” computer graphics. Influenced by the “simpleness of Stoic philosophy”, the designer used a Risograph to print the zine.
“The Stoics also believed that you should not hold any ideas upon special regard or without scrutiny, which inspired me to approach the project with a sense of irreverence, which is basically my favourite way of approaching things,” explains Simen. “I think that might have contributed to the fact that the process was actually quite smooth.”