Friedrich Nietzsche was born on this date in 1844. He died on 25 August 1900. You must attend to him if you would understand our current spiritual/cultural situation. His great aphorism, "Some men are born posthumously" applies to him, and I am sure that when he penned it he was thinking of himself.
What makes it a great aphorism? Economy of expression; penetrating insight; literary quality. An aphorism must be short, but not merely clever: it has to set a truth before us. And it has to do that in an arresting and memorable way.
Some men die before they are dead
is good but does not achieve quite the same level. For one thing, it is derivative as the converse of the Nietzschean saying.
Aphoristic discourse is not argumentative discourse. Like a thunderbolt that does not bring in its train any explanation, a good aphorism is an assertion bare of reasons. It is fitting that Nietzsche should aphorize given his aversion to dialectics:
With Socrates, Greek taste changes in favor of dialectics. What really happened there? Above all, a noble taste is thus vanquished; with dialectics the plebs come to the top. Before Socrates, dialectic manners were repudiated in good society: they were considered bad manners, they were compromising. The young were warned against them. Furthermore, all such presentations of one's reasons were distrusted. Honest things, like honest men, do not carry their reasons in their hands like that. It is indecent to show all five fingers. What must first be proved is worth little. Wherever authority still forms part of good bearing, where one does not give reasons but commands, the dialectician is a kind of buffoon: one laughs at him, one does not take him seriously. Socrates was the buffoon who got himself taken seriously: what really happened there?
One chooses dialectic only when one has no other means. One knows that one arouses mistrust with it, that it is not very persuasive. Nothing is easier to erase than a dialectical effect: the experience of every meeting at which there are speeches proves this. It can only be self-defense for those who no longer have other weapons. One must have to enforce one's right: until one reaches that point, one makes no use of it. The Jews were dialecticians for that reason; Reynard the Fox was one -- and Socrates too? (Twilight of the Idols, "The Problem of Socrates.")
Mark Anderson kindly sent me his book, Zarathustra Stone.
I am impressed by how sympathetically he has entered into Nietzsche's mind and spirit.