“To perceive, in the darkness of the present, this light that strives to reach us but cannot–this is what it means to be contemporary. As such, contemporaries are rare. And for this reason, to be contemporary is, first and foremost, a question of courage, because it means being able not only to firmly fix one’s gaze on the darkness of the epoch but also to perceive in this darkness a light that, while directed toward us, infinitely distances itself from us. In other words it is like being on time for an appointment that one cannot but miss.
…This is the reason why the present that contemporariness perceives has broken vertebrae. Our time, the present, is in fact not only the most distant: it cannot in any way reach us. Its backbone is broken and we find ourselves in the exact point of this fracture. This is why we are, despite everything, contemporaries. It is important to realize that the appointment that is in question in contemporariness does not simply take place in chronological time: it is something that, working within chronological time, urges, presses, and transforms it. And this urgency is the untimeliness, the anachronism that permits us to grasp our time in the form of a “too soon” that is also a “too late”–of an “already” that is also a “not yet.” Moreover, it allows us to recognize in the obscurity of the present the light that, without ever being able to reach us, is perpetually voyaging toward us.”
—Giorgio Agamben “What is Contemporary”