“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?
The Shadow knows.”
This was the catchphrase for the 1930s US radio show, “The Shadow“, as well for the 1994 film of the same name, starring Alec Baldwin and Penelope Ann Miller.
I was reminded of this phrase when driving back to Landschlacht yesterday after hiking in the Pizol mountain region with Ute.
We drove from Wangs, the terminus of the Pizol cablecars, detouring to follow the Lake of Constance from Rorschach westwards to Landschlacht.
To my surprise, Ute related some previously unknown, at least to me, tidbits about the lakeside towns we were passing through.
She had garnered these nuggets of sordidness from the free weekdaily newspapers, 20 Minuten and Blick that I pick up for her whenever I take the trains to/from my places of work.
(I rarely read them myself as a tabloid’s enjoyment tends to be spoiled if one has to constantly check an English-German dictionary for translations.)
Much like, one of my favourite Canadian writers, Stephen Leacock observed, in his Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, there is much under the surface of even the most pristine and boring landscapes.
When one thinks of eastern Switzerland, IF one ever thinks of eastern Switzerland, one tends to view the area as undeveloped, unexciting and uninspiring.
But stroll along the Swiss shore of the Lake using the Shadow’s perspective…
Rorschach: birthplace of Emil Jannings (23 July 1884 – 2 January 1950), the first Oscar recipient and the only German-speaking actor ever honoured with the Academy Award for Best Actor, at the 1929 ceremony.
Best known for his collaborations with F. W. Murnau and Josef von Sternberg (including 1930’s The Blue Angel, with Marlene Dietrich), Jannings later also starred in a number of Nazi propaganda films.
(The name of Rorschach is more well-known for Hermann Rorschach’s famous ink-blot psychological test and later the character of the anti-hero Rorschach of Watchmen fame.
Hermann was born in the nearby village of Arbon.
There is no record whether he even visited the town of Rorschach.)
Horn: See that burnt factory over there?
It was the cherished site of many erotic photographs.
Arbon: birthplace of Hermann Rorschach and the place where Irish Saint Gallus who, while preaching here, wrestled with the devil in the form of a bear.
It is also host to an FKK beach (Freikörperkultur)(nudist beach), as well as sex clubs, nightclubs, contact bars and working girls.
Egnach: With its flagpost banners “Egnach!” is supposedly the gang bang capital of Switzerland, according to the tabloids.
Romanshorn: birthplace of Paul Ott, better known as Paul Lascaux, author of the Müller detective series and the founder of the Swiss Crime and Murder Festival.
Kesswil: birthplace of Carl Jung, psychiatrist, psychotherapist and founder of analytical psychology.
One would never guess that beneath the surface of tranquil lakeside hamlets, apple orchards, pastures of cattle and sheep, beneath these quiet communities of solid citizenry lies a shadowy world of great complexity and many shades of grey.
Stephen Leacock would have been greatly amused.