render them intellectual bootleggers of a sort. (I confess to constantly
adapting themes and approaches from European intellectual and cultural
history in order to explore southwestern Minnesota.) They forever must
ask how capricious and arbitrary is their making of a place.
Writing itself also causes discomfort. As much as the practice of local
history might gain the local historian recognition, the work is lonely work.
Companionship at times amounts to no more than a handful of colleagues
and friends. Yet, the practice of writing local history fails to provide
unsavory cast of gun-toting, free-living, fun-loving
bootleggers against whom a few righteously labored and many con-
spired. But dissenters abounded. In one town, the pharmacist filled il-
licit prescriptions; in the Belgian-settled village of Ghent, which eventu-
ally voted sixty-six to none to repeal Prohibition, the milkman delivered
The depression forced a national redefinition of clandestine society.
Bank robbers abounded, and with popular support in the countryside,
militant farmers took the law into their own hands. The depression also
unleashed legions of
alcohol is not the same as alcohol during Prohibition—a notable as-
pect of the “cultural” climate prevailing during the years when this book
was conceived and written. For those who were not bootleggers but who
merely patronized bootleggers, alcohol under such conditions was in a
penumbra of motives indeterminately lawless and sanctioned by custom.
On Stress, Its Seeking 21
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The chemical spirits were thus linked with a kind of spirit that had the
aura of adventure even while being quite within the range of ordinary ef-
it. They denatured the denatured. Everyone would
put some denaturing in it. Then the bootlegger would take
some of the denaturing out. My body wouldn’t put up with it.
FG: It’s all a seeking for transcendence. Alcohol, all drugs, whatever,
is an attempt to achieve transcendence. Authority believes you
can control transcendence with doxological methods, through
ceremony, through ritual, through language. But if they believe
that the expression of personal transcendence is pure escape
external to their ritual, then it’s prohibited.
KB: I was up at Wesleyan. I was