The world (heck, the universe) is objectively huge, even if it’s been getting subjectively smaller for decades (cell phones, supersonic jets, Xbox Live, Instagram). The idea that we can affect any kind of meaningful change on it is hubristic, though all the legitimate climate science tells us that we can, we have, and we should consider trying to stop. That’s not really what I’m getting at here, though; I’m thinking more about a broad comparison between destiny/fate and personal agency. Does anything we do really matter to the nearly-infinite world that exists outside of the small one in which we spend 90% of our time? Is fate more like a joke played on us by the very nature of existence, and at the end of this constant string of choices we call life, are we going to get the rug pulled out from under us and realize that none of the things over which we agonized really mattered?
The minimizing glass is kind of exemplary of that: the user chooses where to point it, and what to make “unimportant” by its gaze. Even though it’s simply a symbolic choice, it’s still a choice (and we can cue the Andrew Ryan quotes here). I don’t think it reverberates outside of the little world in which the viewer exists, though. At the same time, it’s a far better thing to choose than to be indifferent; struggling is definitely preferable to succumbing.
Sometimes I feel like that Calvin & Hobbes strip where Calvin screams, “I’m significant!!” at the night sky and later mutters, “…screamed the dust speck,” is one of the most profound, and profoundly relevant, pieces of art I’ll ever see in my life.
I think Newton understands that just because something looks smaller through the glass, doesn’t mean its properties in reality have been affected. Sometimes it’s just comfortable to exist in a delusion, at least for a little while.