Didactic Dragon

John Gardner describes an encounter between Grendel and a dragon which provides the occasion for an exquisite disquisition.

After another long pause, he said: "Approach it this way. Let us take this jug." He picked up a golden vessel and held it toward me, not letting me touch it. In spite of himself, as it seemed, he looked hostile and suspicious, as if he thought I might perhaps be so stupid as to snatch the thing and run. "How does this jug differ from something animate?" He drew it back out of reach. "By organization! Exactly! This jug is an absolute democracy of atoms. It has importance, or thereness, so to speak, but no Expression, or, loosely, ah-ha!-ness. Importance is primarily monistic in its reference to the universe. Limited to a finite individual occasion, importance ceases to be important. In some sense or other — we can skip the details — importance is derived from the immanence of infinitude in the finite. Expression, however — listen closely now — expression if founded on the finite occasion. It is the activity of finitude impressing itself on its environment. Importance passes from the world as one to the world as many, whereas expression is the gift from the world as many to the world as one. The laws of nature are large average effects which reign impersonally. But there is nothing average about expression: it is essentially individual. [...] "
Nothing average here located a pivotal moment in the novel Grendel. As the dragon continues it becomes evident that Grendel does not follow entirely and soon they part ways. But the distinction between importance and expression hovers at the edge of memory and colours the following scenes.

And so for day 1175