Reality as an Art is a book about creating something so close to magic that calling it anything else is splitting hairs, and that becomes so natural that the performer or practitioner can create his or her own miracles at a moment’s notice. This is possible in part because of the way that each of us builds our perceptual realities and conceptual realities, and the invisible ways that the process can be shifted to create something miraculous.
The book is made up of chapters that lay out the tools, the mechanics and the dynamics that allow our realities to be shifted. This includes a description the nature of perception that allows these effects to happen, the social variables that are in play during each interaction, and the internal variables such as the mindset and expectations of the performer/practitioner.
Each concept is broken into principles that are then illustrated by practical demonstrations. For fun I’ve taken some clips of these from 10-12 years apart:
The Invisible Rope
The Invisible Rope is a demonstration that is very visual and very tactile at the same time, where the idea of a rope becomes real in an astonishing (and reliable) way. You take out an “invisible rope,” which seems like a silly joke until you use it to tie someone up and pull them over.
The Skull is something that could be overlooked next to the drama of the others, but handled well it is one of the strongest and most versatile things that I have ever used. An object that carries a heavy idea can instantly become too heavy to even hold, touching people intellectually and emotionally, and somehow managing to be extremely subtle and extremely dramatic at the same time.
Psychic Surgery can be the strangest experience that someone has ever experienced—or seen—but it can also be an unassuming but fascinating “children’s game” to share. Use an invisible scalpel to remove and insert things into the “patient.” An iron bar that makes a joint unable to move. A microchip that connects their arm to yours. And whatever else you can imagine…
The Ghost Touch
The Ghost’s Touch is something that layers an idea from mentalism with a moment of astonishment that can lead to real magic, showing how it is not the effect that matters, but how it is used.
A demonstration in which a participant’s limbs stop and start working. Yet the focus is not on the effect, but how it demonstrates the way in which we can seamlessly and playfully create nearly any experience.
Powerless is a demonstration wherein we really do something that magicians have long faked: sap away a strong person’s strength on command. It is also an illustration of how this type of shifting of reality works and can be applied to anything.
The book outlines the tools to create your own real magic. See the full book summary here.
Note: In this edition I’ve removed Push and Telltale Heart, which were demonstrations in the 2014 edition. I have a lot of reasons for this, but the main one is that they were not fully fleshed out in the book and I had to spend time coaching people individually to get reliable results. That’s all fine when I’m doing small print runs and working part-time, but I can’t do that anymore. For now, at least, I will only teach these live where I can give them the attention that they deserve.
For the rest of the routines, I have added insights and improvements from over the years. I will share some extra routines and examples in 2023 with those who buy the book from me directly.