In 1918 a young Carl Schmitt published a short satirical fiction entitled The Buribunks. He imagined a future society of beings who consistently wrote and disseminated their personal diaries. Schmitt would go on to become the infamous philosopher of the exception and for a while the ‘Crown Jurist of the Third Reich’. The Buribunks – ironically for beings that lived only for self-memorialisation – has been mostly lost to history. However, the digital realm, with its emphasis on the informatic traces generated by human doing, and the continual interest in Schmitt’s work to explain and criticise contemporary constellations of power, suggests that The Buribunks is a text whose epoch has come.
This volume includes the first full translation into English of The Buribunks and a selection of critical essays on the text, its meanings in the digital present, its playing with and criticism of the literary form, and its place within Schmitt’s life and work. The Buribunks and the essays provide a complex, critical and provocative invitation to reimagine the relations between the human and their imprint and legacy within archives and repositories. There is a fundamental exploration of what it means to be a being intensely aware of ‘writing itself’.
This is not just a volume for critical lawyers, literary scholars and the Schmitt literati. It is a volume that challenges a broad range of disciplines, from philosophy to critical data studies, to reflect on the digital present and its assembled and curated beings. It is a volume that provides a set of fantastically located concepts, images and histories that traverse ideas and practices, play and politics, power and possibility.