On the normality of writing: inscription/description of everyday life

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Die Buribunken by Carl Schmitt is an uncommon philosophical piece rarely read by non-specialists. Still, with regard to both style – expressionist, satirical, ironic, allusive (2) – and content it exhibits subtle connections with our time and surprising peculiarities that could easily turn it into an unexpected classico. This essay aims to shed a new light on Schmitt’s text, focusing on the act of writing as a procedure for cultural and political control (3.1). The description of life is not a folkloric or neutral aspect of Buribunken society but an inscription of a social norm that affects our being and covers with noble claims of scientific progress the continuous reduction of every element of vitality (3.2). In contrast with traditional conceptions of writing, as both means and end (to reflect on the self and to influence civil progress), a new paradigm is displayed. Paradoxically the subject of writing becomes completely depersonalised and dispossessed by the same activity that was supposed to lead him to his own subjectivity (3.3). Die Buribunken can be reactivated in this respect as a political and cultural fabula for the contemporary reader. Not only as a disillusioned manifesto on the crisis of modernity, nor simply as a sarcastic attempt to depict a hierarchical and excluding society. The interpretation proposed here argues that Schmitt anticipated phenomena such as automatisation, spectacularisation, self-referentiality, mortification of the living, which all share the tendency to orient life coercively into the sphere of information – with the contrary effect of degrading it (4). Whence the urgent need for a radical rethinking of the Humanities, in order to face the long and provocative shadow cast on us by the Buribunkology, so as to renew our understanding of life without reducing it to control and manipulation (5).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-188
Number of pages16
JournalGriffith Law Review
Issue number2
Early online date20 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Carl Schmitt
  • Writing
  • Crisis of modernity
  • Koselleck
  • Buribunken
  • Zoe/bios
  • Posthumanities


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