Many have discovered Dale Hildebrandt as a thinker like no other. His creations are unique, weird, absurd, surreal and lead to extremely strong effects. He writes in his introduction:
Hello, my name is Dale A. Hildebrandt and I’m addicted to weird magic. I like to invent magic that is absurd, strange, and surreal. There’s nothing better than creating an effect or routine that makes people stop and think. Then there’s the effect that astonishes them into silence. And we can’t forget about the effects which make them wonder just how pliable the world is in the hands of those who can ply. Paul Harris often refers to playing cards as his canvas, in his “Art of Astonishment” trilogy of books.
I like to go one step further and view reality as a canvas. How can we reach out and manipulate reality in order to astonish people and inspire a sense of awe and wonder? This is the question I often seek to answer with my effects and routines. These effects range from the simple to the sublime, often with the slant being towards the surreal. The vast majority of these effects will fool the socks off lay people. Some of them will even fool your fellow magicians.
You will see a heavy influence of Kenton Knepper, Derren Brown, Eugene Burger, Paul Harris and Banachek in these pages. I’ve also been heavily influenced by neurolinguistic programming and hypnosis and you will notice many linguistic devices and psychological ploys used throughout the book. I’ve tried to add a surreal level to my magic. In most cases, I believe I’ve succeeded quite well.
It has been a long journey to get here, but it has been well worth it. Sometimes technology doesn’t catch up to your imagination for a few years. Sometimes you have to search for something that is a suitable gimmick. Sometimes you figure out ways to make gimmicks out of language. Sometimes you learn to make a gaff out of imagination.
For the most part, practical magic and performance art pieces have been the primary goal. Surrealism often takes a back seat to practicality. Magic that will fool real people in real audiences in the so-called real world has been the name of the game. The goal was to make those real audiences in the real world question just how real and solid their world was to them. There are few items in this book which are pure exercises of thought. If you cannot tell the difference between the two, perhaps you will create new and astounding magic. Or you may fail horribly. But don’t worry, it isn’t failure, it is feedback that tells you that perhaps, but only just perhaps, that item was an exercise in thought left to entice you to do more, to do better, to come up with a way to shape reality in that fashion.
Leave the ordinary at the door. Let consensus reality bend before your very eyes. Take off your hat of presumptions, hang up your coat of objections, and enjoy the journey.
This is the second edition. It does not contain the first edition bonus section material and does not contain the essay "Punching Clowns". The rest is the same as the first edition.