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Title: The Time of Indifference: Mandelstam's Age, Badiou's Event, and Agamben's Contemporary
Authors: Watkin, W
Keywords: Agamben;Badiou;Mandelstam;Modernism;The contemporary;Kairos;Indifference
Issue Date: 2016
Citation: CounterText, 2 (1): pp. 85 - 99, (20160
Abstract: There has been little direct discussion between perhaps the two leading philosophers of our age: Alain Badiou and Giorgio Agamben. Yet both men have written about the same poem by Osip Mandelstam, ‘The Age’, around the topic of time. Significantly, Agamben’s response, written after Badiou’s, is a subtle and damning critique of Badiou’s conceptualisation of time, in particular extended across the categories of the modern, the contemporary, and the now or the event – although it never actually mentions Badiou by name. In this paper the lens of the central role of indifference in the work of both is used to present alternating and competing views as to the nature of modern, contemporary, and ‘now’ time. Specifically, a contrast is drawn between Badiou’s use of indifference as both quality-neutral and absolutely non-relational, and Agamben’s application of the indifferent suspension of the temporal signature as such. The paper concludes that while Badiou uses temporal indifference to question and problematise the idea of modern time as ‘now’, through a theory of the event, Agamben appears to go further. Rather than analyse the nature of modern time, the contemporary, and the now through his reading of Mandelstam, Agamben usesMandelstam’s poem to suspend theWestern conception of time as a line composed of points in its entirety.
ISSN: 2056-4406
Appears in Collections:Dept of Arts and Humanities Research Papers

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