Unter-Föhn-ein-Fluß

“Fluß, Du fließt in alter Weise / durch Dein programmiertes Tal” beginnt ein Ohrwurm aus den frühen Achtzigern (1). Gemeint ist der Rhein, nicht nur nach David Hume schönster Fluß der Welt (2), der auf immerhin gut zwanzig Kilometern als schlingernder Rebell, die Taschen voller Steine (3) das Fürstentum tangiert, bedrängt und mit seiner eigenartig-eingezwängten Rheinheit bestäubt. Es mag am Föhn oder der gerade aufkeimenden Leichtigkeit des klimawandelnden, bisher noch ewig wiederkehrenden Frühlings liegen, auch dürfte die Übersichtlichkeit Liechtensteins dazu beitragen, daß im Spannungsfeld dahingeträllert-erinnerter Liedzeilen und literarischer Zitate ganze Utopien und Dystopien für diesen Landstrich entstehen und zerfallen. So zeichnete bereits vor zwei Jahrhunderten der notorische Rheinromantiker Brentano ein kirmesartig überdrehtes “Vadutz” als Mischung aus verlorenem Paradies, Eldorado und Schlaraffenland, dessen Fluß die ganze Woche ein unzugängliches Steinmeer ist und nur am Sabbath seine Wogen bewegt (4), ein Land voller Absonderlichkeiten wie Schlüsselblumen-Champagner und wasserdichten Lobzetteln, ein Land aber auch des “Alles, wie es seyn soll und nie seyn wird” (5).

Der Utopie wohnt die Dystopie wohl zwangsläufig inne – und umgekehrt. Und ein nur feiertags fließender Fluß gibt Grund zu grübeln. Was, wenn der Rhein, zum Eingewöhnen gerne zunächst nur unter der Woche, schließlich aber komplett vor Balzers Richtung Walensee abflösse? Eine Programmierung gewissermaßen, die schon einmal zum Einsatz gekommen sein soll, in einer Zeit allerdings, bevor es Menschen gab, die davon Zeugnis hätten ablegen können – während heute keine halbe Stunde verginge, bis eine solche Sensation im Internet stünde, mit Videobeweis und jeder Menge abstruser Äußerungen in der Kommentarspalte. Nicht nur würden wir derartige Wunder heute postwendend nachweisen, wir hätten sie wahrscheinlich selber bewerkstelligt, eben: programmiert. Es muß schließlich immer weitergehen. Daß ein Flußlauf sich korrigieren, stauen und angesichts des entstandenen Schlamassels hübsch renaturieren läßt, gehört längst zum kulturellen Repertoire der Menschheit.

Was die Schweizer mit dem neuen Flußverlauf anfingen, sei an dieser Stelle außen vor. Schauen wir auf die Chancen für das Fürstentum. Ohne Rhein würde es etwas trockener in Liechtenstein, gewiß, doch ließe sich mit dem gewonnenen Areal Begeisterndes beginnen. Das Rheingold entpuppte sich neuerdings als Bauland, auf den Kiesbänken wüchsen zunächst, was ihnen umgangssprachlich ohnehin innewohnt: Banken. Statt des Rheins strömte einfach noch mehr Geld durchs Land. Welchem ernstzunehmenden Menschen gilt heute die Metafer vom Leben, das als Wasserlauf betrachtet werden sollte (6)? Vielmehr liest sich ein modernes Leben in Kontoauszügen und Börsendiagrammen. Im Rheintal entstünde, Kapital zieht Kapital an, mit Kapital wird gebaut, wo gebaut wird kommen ungelernte Kräfte, die sich bekanntlich rasend vermehren, Schaan, Vaduz und Triesen machen es derzeit ganz zaghaft vor, eine Megalopole mit Angeboten weit über Brentanos nicht selten kindliche Vorstellungen hinaus, das planierte Rheinbett diente, endlich, als International Airport, die neuerdings animierten Bergzacken leuchteten als wechselnde Tageskurse ins Tal, die riesigen Fußballstadien von Ruggell und Triesenberg wären weithin gefürchtete Festungen, vermutlich in Planken siedelte unter einem überdimensionierten Schriftzug die Filmindustrie und das Fürstenhaus wäre tägliches Thema im deutschen Fernsehen. Klingt das phantastisch oder realistisch? Spinnerei und Business liegen viel näher beieinander, als allgemein angenommen wird. „Unsere Geldsorten schnitten wir aus Goldpapier“ (7) schrieb Brentano über sein Traumland Vadutz, als Liechtenstein Bauernland war – von seiner Vorstellungskraft läßt sich bis heute lernen.

Wie bitte, Sie würden den Rhein vermissen? Dieses eingedeichte Abziehbild von einem Fluß? Ist nicht nötig, noch ist er ja da. Besonders gut zu betrachten aus den höheren Warten. Im aktuellen Energiekonzept der Landesregierung wird er demnach als potentieller Energielieferant geführt. Das klingt nach Staustufen und Kraftwerksbauten und Rückfall in die Zukunft. Noch hat niemand die Verklappung des Flußlaufs unter eine Asfaltdecke vorgeschlagen, ein Projekt, welches Energie- und Siedlungspolitik sinnvoll vereinen könnte. Nutzen Sie also, falls Sie den Rhein wirklich vermissen würden, den Mai, machen Sie einen Ausflug auf den Damm, nehmen sie Bruce Springsteen im Kopfhörer mit, der unvergleichlich von Lügen gewordenen Träumen orakelte und ausgetrockneten Flüssen (8) und schauen Sie sich den Rhein nochmal in seiner jetzigen Form an. Wer weiß – Warnungen gibt es zuhauf (9) – wie lange das noch möglich ist.

1 Rheingold: Fluß
2 „the finest river in the world“ (David Hume: The Letters)
3 Richard Pietraß: Mit einem Bein in Liechtenstein
4 Clemens Brentano: Gockel, Hinkel und Gackeleia
5 Ebd.
6 „An individual human existence should be like a river“ (Bertrand Russell: Portraits from memory and other essays)
7 Clemens Brentano: a.a.O.
8 Bruce Springsteen: The River
9 Golgowski-Quartett: Am dreißigsten Mai ist der Weltuntergang

(Aktuelle Kolumne für das Monatsmagazin KuL des Liechtensteiner Vaterlands)

Hume an der Donau: as it were in an opera

The Danube, 7th of April.

We have really made a very pleasant journey, or rather voyage, with good weather, sitting at our ease, and having a variety of scenes continually presented to us, and immediately shifted, as it were in an opera. The banks of the Danube are very wild and savage, and have a very different beauty from those of the Rhine; being commonly high scraggy precipices, covered all with firs. The water is sometimes so straitened betwixt these mountains, that this immense river is often not sixty foot broad. We have lain in and seen several very good towns in Bavaria and Austria, such as Strauburg, Passau, Lintz; but what is most remarkable is the great magnificence of some convents, particularly Moelk, where a set of lazy rascals of monks live in the most splendid misery of the world; for, generally speaking, their lives are as little to be envied as their persons are to be esteemed.
We enter Vienna in a few hours, and the country is here extremely agreeable; the fine plains of the Danube began about thirty miles above, and continued down, through Austria, Hungary, &c. till it falls into the Black Sea. The river is very magnificent. Thus we have finished a very agreeable journey of 860 miles (for so far is Vienna from the Hague) have past through many a prince’s territories, and have had more masters than many of these princes have subjects. Germany is undoubtedly a very fine country, full of industrious honest people; and were it united, it would be the greatest power that ever was in the world. The common people are here, almost every where, much better treated, and more at their ease, than in France; and are not very much inferior to the English, notwithstanding all the airs the latter give themselves. There are great advantages in travelling, and nothing serves more to remove prejudices; for I confess I had entertained no such advantageous idea of Germany; and it gives a man of humanity pleasure to see that so considerable a part of mankind as the Germans are in so tolerable a condition.

(David Hume)

Hume in Nijmegen: you see nothing but the tops of trees standing up amidst the waters, which recalls the idea of Egypt

Nimeguen, 20th March.

We have come from Breda in two days, and lay last night at Bois-le-duc, which is situated in the midst of a lake, and is absolutely impregnable. That part of Brabant, through which we travelled, is not very fertile, and is full of sandy heaths. Nimeguen is in the Gueldre, the pleasantest province of the seven, perhaps of the seventeen. The land is beautifully divided into heights and plains, and is cut by the branches of the Rhine. Nimeguen has a very commanding prospect, and the country below it is particularly remarkable at present because of the innundation of the Wahal, a branch of the Rhine, which covers the whole fields for several leagues; and you see nothing but the tops of trees standing up amidst the waters, which recalls the idea of Egypt during the inundations of the Nile. Nimeguen is a well-built town, not very strong, though surrounded with a great many works. Here we met our machines, which came hither by a shorter road from the Hague. They are a berline for the general and his company, and a chaise for the servants. We set out to-morrow, and pass by Cologne, Frankfort, and Ratisbon, till we meet with the Danube, and then we sail down that river for two hundred and fifty miles to Vienna.

(David Hume)

Hume in Koblenz: the Rhine, the finest river in the world

Coblentz, 26th March.

We have made the pleasantest journey in the world in two days from Bonne to this town. We travel all along the banks of the Rhine; sometimes in open, beautiful, well-cultivated plains; at another time sunk betwixt high mountains, which are only divided by the Rhine, the finest river in the world. One of these mountains is always covered with wood to the top; the other with vines; and the mountain is so steep that they are obliged to support the earth by walls, which rise one above another like terraces to the length of forty or fifty stories. Every quarter of a mile, (indeed as often as there is any flat bottom for a foundation,) you meet with a handsome village, situated in the most romantic manner in the world. Surely there never was such an assemblage of the wild and cultivated beauties in one scene. There are also several magnificent convents and palaces to embellish the prospects.
This is a very thriving well-built town, situated at the confluence of the Moselle and the Rhine, and consequently very finely situated. Over the former river there is a handsome stone bridge; over the latter a flying bridge, which is a boat fixed by a chain: this chain is fixed by an anchor to the bottom of the middle of the river far above, and is supported by seven little boats placed at intervals that keep it along the surface of the water. By means of the rudder, they turn the head of the large boat to the opposite bank, and the current of the river carries it over of itself. It goes over in about four minutes, and will carry four or five hundred people. It stays about five or six minutes and then returns. Two men are sufficient to guide it, and it is certainly a very pretty machine. There is the like at Cologne. This town is the common residence of the Archbishop of Treves, who has here a pretty magnificent palace. We have now travelled along a great part of that country, through which the Duke of Marlborough marched up his army, when he led them into Bavaria. ‘Tis of this country Mr. Addison speaks when he calls the people —

Nations of slaves by Tyranny debased,
Their Maker’s image more than half-defaced.

And he adds that the soldiers were —

Hourly instructed as they urge their toil,
To prize their Queen and love their native soil.

If any foot soldier could have more ridiculous national prejudices than the poet, I should be much surprised. Be assured there is not a finer country in the world; nor are there any signs of poverty among the people. But John Bull’s prejudices are ridiculous, as his insolence is intolerable.

(David Hume)

Hume in Köln: as if it had lately escaped a pestilence or famine

Cologne, 23d March.

We came hither last night, and have travelled through an extreme pleasant country along the banks of the Rhine. Particularly Cleves, which belongs to the King of Prussia, is very agreeable, because of the beauty of the roads, which are avenues bordered with fine trees. The land in that province is not fertile, but is well cultivated. The bishoprick of Cologne is more fertile and adorned with fine woods as well as Cleves. The country is all very populous, the houses good, and the inhabitants well clothed and well fed. This is one of the largest cities in Europe, being near a league in diameter. The houses are all high; and there is no interval of gardens or fields. So that you would expect it must be very populous. But it is not so. It is extremely decayed, and is even falling to ruin. Nothing can strike one with more melancholy than its appearance, where there are marks of past opulence and grandeur, but such present waste and decay, as if it had lately escaped a pestilence or famine. We are told, that it was formerly the centre of all the trade of the Rhine, which has been since removed to Holland, Liege, Frankfort, &c. Here we see the Rhine in its natural state; being only a little higher (but no broader) on account of the melting of the snows. I think it is as broad as from the foot of your house to the opposite banks of the river.

(David Hume)