By Jason Puskar
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In what amounts to a dissent against traditional liberal theories of free will and self-control, Crane links the accurate execution of one’s intentions with imperial violence and links random, aimless shooting to a preferable mode of ruthless egalitarianism. Chapter 3 addresses pragmatism directly and at length, through a consideration of two writers who trust chance to aid their investigations, the philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce and the best-selling detective novelist Anna Katharine Green.
Even though Charles Dickens’s outrageous social coincidences may reflect the unpredictability of modern The Insurance of the Real social systems, they also have centripetal and integrative tendencies that suggest higher levels of design. When, in Oliver Twist (1861), the orphan’s benefactor turns out to be closely connected to his lost relatives, the reunion of families and friends acts as a thematic counterpart to the formal integration of multiple plots, which the novel’s conclusion braids together.
And because insurance has no pretension to reform society, merely to compensate for allegedly unpreventable losses, realism could surrender some of its own ambition to exert managerial control over society and instead embrace a looser policy of tending to, without necessarily alleviating, the injuries and losses at the heart of modern life. The Insurance of the Real Alongside the practical, compensatory functions of insurance, the industry exercised a more subtle but equally profound influence on Americans’ consciousness of chance.