Most people think the Big Top seems so huge and madly colorful that it must be at least part trickery; nothing could be that garish, that barely-controlled prismatic explosive without being a glamour or a bit of high-powered hokum, and of course, they’re right; the Big Top looks like it stretches to fill half the sky, and that’s because half of it is painted like nighttime stars, so that you don’t notice the way the big top reaches from rim to rim to rim of the World.
Nobody’s sure how that works. Nothing could be that big. And it’s comforting to know it’s, as mentioned before, just a trick; it may be a trick in a direction which doesn’t make any sense, but the cynical are content to see the flim and flam and not be flummoxed or flatfooted; and the gullible are simply ready for it to be what it seems. You’d have to ask the Painter how he pulls it all off, and he’s not talking; he’s got a bottle of moonshine cut with starshine, and someone to color.
Honestly, it’s simple. Like so much, it’s all done with mirrors:
You take a hundred billion billion mirrors, and you stretch a tight cloth made from the secondhand wings of a definitely-not-infinite number of butterflies who made the sensible decision to become caterpillars and sold their excess baggage for a very unreasonable price. Then you twist it thither and thither and thither, until the insurging colours almost-blend into those deceptive long Circus lines which look like they go on forever when, in fact, they go on no more than some uncountable-but-finite amount of parsecs.
Then you paint in the bits that look, to most eyes, like Universe instead of Tent.
After that, all you have to do is place below it an armada of battalions of Wonders, such that nobody really looks beyond the pretend Impossibilities to see the actual Impossibilities playing out.
And you’ve got a Big Top.
It’s simple, isn’t it, once you know how it’s done?