Clifford & The Theory of Everything


“Do you guys remember Clifford the dog?”

The classroom full of teenagers stared back blankly.

“Big red dog…  Anybody?”


Professor Brown closed his eyes and sighed.  His planned analogy binding a lovable cartoon animal to the mysteries of the cosmos would fall flat.  Better to retreat and fight another day then die a slow defeat he thought.

“Alright, well, someone look up Clifford online and have an answer for me tomorrow.  Class dismissed.”

Brown packed up his notes as the students left their seats and filed out the door.  He stood in the empty room alone, contemplating his lesson.

Clifford, stupid.

Brown knew he wasn’t a great teacher, knew he was hanging on to his adjunct professorship by a thread, but he did care, he did want to reach them, share his wonder and endless curiosity for the depths and intricacies of the universe beyond their planet, the elastic relationships between gravity and time, space and light.

And that’s what the Clifford thing was about: here, on earth, a massive, ageless hound dog was an impossible fantasy that could exist only in the mind, or paper, well… or as an image on the internet… but it couldn’t be real, that was the point.  But on a different planet, in a binary star system revolving closely around a black hole, well then, then!, a huge dog with a near limitless life span could be possible.  It could really be possible.  and not only possible, but almost certainly actual, due to the trillions upon quintillions of planets that existed in the universe, orbiting a near infinite number of stars in a near infinite combinations.

“And IF something as silly and whimsical as Clifford the Dog had a high probability of actually being real, then,” Brown would pose to the class, “what else in our imaginations is also real?  and what then, does that say about our imaginations as conduits for a greater, collective universal consciousness, a memory bank, not for things that do not exist, but for things that do exist, simply outside of our physical grasp.”

As Brown finished packing up his things, his iphone chimed with a notification- facebook.

Brown swiped to check it, a post from a student that he was tagged in:

“IDK wut Prof. Brown is smokin’, but this college is putting me in debt for life and he’s got us googling cartoons for homework.  FML”

“Yes,” Brown thought, as he closed the door to the lecture room behind him, “FML.”