Passivity is in effect nothing but the dissolution of the 'I', the renunciation of any subjective identity. In the end, in order to cease being a coward one must fully consent to becoming. The crucial idea is this: the reverse of cowardice is not will, but abandonment to what happens.' (125)Badiou goes on to write of an 'almost ontological passivity' (126) in which the stakes are an 'unconditional abandonment to the event.' (125) What then happens in the time of the interval? Or, more pessimistically, what if another event does not take place? It seems to me that this possibility is perfectly thinkable from within Badiou's set-up, even if would appear to imply the end of his own thinking. Even if we were not to accept this, what if an event were not to take place in our lifetime? (Writing as someone born in 1969)
Badiou, certainly in The Century, implies that this is impossible (in the negative sense). The sequence is closed and what is required is a new subtractive discipline. This, in what perhaps might be an over-forced reading, is evident in Charles Olson's 'Kingfishers' (1949) (pdf). Here, the subtractive discipline of modernism is correlated to the endurance of an event - the Chinese Revolution (see the excellent reading by Perry Anderson in The Origins of Postmodernity - far more erudite and accurate than mine).** I want to also reconstruct this courage, evident in Olson's poem, as perhaps relevant to the endurance of the interval as well.
what cost in gesture justice brings
what wrongs domestic rights involve
This leads to the final question (and answer) provided by the poem:
'shall you uncover honey / where maggots are?
I hunt among stones'
* Rather irritatingly we have been 'told' to update all bibliographies with post-2000 works, the endless progress of knowledge you see, and constantly improving research, dictates an ironic ethics of recuperated modernism; 'One must be absolutely modern' (Rimbaud).
** What's depressing, writing on Anglo-American Modernism, is dealing with the fact that virtually all of them decry the Russian revolution / the general strike. Enough allegorical readings about the decline of the West, turns out it's all (largely) anti-Bolshevik polemic.
Guy Davenport, 'Scholia and Conjectures for Olson's "The Kingfishers"', boundary 2 2.1/2 (1973-1974): 250-262.