In Grendel, I think Gardner shows that art is in how it is presented, not necessarily the art itself because of the shaper's funeral. The original shaper could change people's perception so well that he almost had Grendel convinced, but at his funeral,the younger shaper sings and no one is affected. Grendel tells us that the king listened "dry-eyed" (page 148) and Unferth had "eyes like stones" (page 149).
In this novel, I believe art is shown through presentation, like Rachel said. For example, Grendel was "engraved" (77) by the Shaper's song because of the "blissful, swinish ignorace, [and] their hope" (77). Grendel had never seen this type of beautiful ignorance, and it effected him. Through Grendel, Gardner presented the ignorance of man and the power words have over the human race. With the Shapers song, because of the way it was perceived, the people believed him and found hope in the words he sang, while Grendel took notice of the beautiful art, although he saw through it partially, it still effected him.
I love that you found the quote describing it as blissful ignorance. I think that describes it all perfectly because the humans in this novel follow everything so blindly, art and "beauty" just being two examples out of many.
In the novel "Grendel", it seemed that Gardner was trying to portray a messed up sense of community through Grendel's isolation. Since Grendel didn't look or act very much like a person, he was immediately seen as a vile beast who had no sense and was very destructive. But by being ostracized by the community, from being alone for so long with no one he could have a intelligent conversation with, made him yearn to be part of their "group". The other people wanted to create a community because their isolation was a threat to their safety. They came together from their isolation to make a community. So isolation created a community, and vice versa.
I think that your point that the humans came together to form a "community" is a really good point. Their "community" is nothing more than former foes turned allies attempting to kill one common enemy--Grendel. And to think that Grendel, even if for only a moment, wanted to be some part of that "community" is amazing to me.
Also Grendel sees how the isolated people come together to form a community and he doesn't completely understand why he cant be a part of the community. And so he forces himself on the community.
That's an interesting point that not only did isolation create a community but community created isolation. I never thought of it like that, but I do think that makes sense. I also like what Alex said about Grendel being the common enemy. I think that's the only reason a community was really ever formed, and the community being formed out of hate says a lot about the whole of humanity.
HulseyTCHS 12th AP Lit