On Friday night, Professor Richard Kearney was rounding off a week of interval talks on Radio 3 with one entitled The end of the story?, about the decline of narrative in the post-modern era. There was some very interesting stuff here about the role of fiction in promoting ethical thought, the essential point being that literary narratives help us to understand other lives in a controlled, insulated fashion - or as Professor Kearney put it, novels "empower readers to identify with the characteristic moments of human finitude". I don't know what to say about that except "get away with you".

Anyway, the idea was to offer some harshly satirical words on his over- academic manner, and all the cliches about modern culture with its net- surfing and its short attention spans; but then along came Saturday's Kaleidoscope feature (Radio 4), a frankly embarrassing piece of propaganda for raves, in which Tim Malyon encountered some freakishly non-linear thought. Asked whether men ever bothered her at raves, one woman said: "You never get hassled, you obviously get, you know, the odd people, like, and then it's just, like, `See you later', really, isn't it?" Um, if you say so.

Elsewhere, ravers held a widespread conviction that opposition to raves was due to the state's fear that they might foster new forms of political thought and activity - as opposed to other people's fears of noise, traffic and drug-related crime. You didn't feel that the people Malyon was speaking to demonstrated much idea of how to identify with the characteristic moments of human finitude - certainly of Radio 4 listeners' finitude. This may have been propagandist in intent, but it failed to target its audience - one thing to be thankful for.

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