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3: Genius Loci

Prompt: Choose a place that you find meaningful. Find it’s Genius Loci.
Describe it in text and image.


The term genius loci, in reference to Christian Norberg-Schulz' article of the same name, is coined to be an ancient Roman concept and is defined as "a guardian spirit". According to Schulz, "every 'independent' being has its genius". But with a little help from the Internet, I discovered an easier, broader definition that I can better relate to, in which the term is considered to be "the overall distinctive atmosphere or spirit of a specific place".

When I was trying to think of a place that was meaningful to me to respond to this prompt, I instantly triggered an image of the Minnesota State Fair in my head. The fair is meaningful in different ways for me. At times I love it, because it’s a place where you can surround yourself with people who are all there to have a good time and enjoy themselves. But other times I can’t stand being at the fair. Some days there are plenty of things to complain about – the heat, the overly-crowded streets, and having to walk quite a long way to get to where you want.

To me, the genius loci of the State Fair is the pride and cultural value us Minnesotans have in one of our most famous pastimes. After all, the Minnesota State Fair is one of the largest state fairs in the country. Whenever I’m at the fair, regardless of my mood, I always have the feeling that I’m immersed in the culture of Minnesota. Sure, you can spend the day eating and drinking some of the best food you’ll ever encounter, but you can also spend time learning about the interests of the Minnesota’s citizens and all the different political, social, and environmental issues apparent in our state.

The millions of people that visit the State Fair every year are what make the fair what it is. Without this “spirit? the Minnesota State Fair wouldn’t be as popular as it is today.

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Image: http://www.auri.org/news/ainjul00/images/fair.gif


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