Why my banana guard is a time machine…


This story was first performed as part of “what is there to talk about?”, an event at Talbot Rice Gallery run by artist Rob Kennedy.

I believe that my banana guard is a time machine. I’ve wanted make a case for this … case for a long time, but I’ve never had the … time. But perhaps if I had a lot of it on my hands, time that is, it might become a book that might read something like this.

Chapter 1:

In my capacity as a sane human being [this is how I would write if I had more time on my hands] I believe this banana case is a time machine because if I put a banana in my daughters hello kitty bag along with her jewellery case, hot air balloon and a thingy – it gets older rapidly.

In just three days of giggling, wiggling, walking, jumping, bobbing, throwing, sitting, standing, dancing, bouncing and being a cat the erstwhile yellow – joyful – banana becomes brown and haggard.

Whereas if I put the banana inside this case and then in to my daughters hello kitty bag with the jewellery case, hot air balloon and thingy – it comes out much the same as when it went in.

I guess I’m saying – after a long tradition of science fiction – that this is a kind of time machine called a stasis booth. A stasis booth is a barrier, or shield or room, or wall that keeps time out.

Will the banana stay young indefinitely inside the case?

No. But – after an equally long tradition of science fiction – that’s simply because the stasis booth is a bit leaky.

Now I will make no assumptions dear reader about what you may think, but I do not think most people would accept this argument. And I imagine the counter argument to run as follow:

The Banana Case is not a time machine because it is not protecting the banana from time. It is protecting it from the jewellery box, the hot air balloon and the thingy. This is apparent to anyone. If you look carefully at the “aged” banana you might even see the imprint of one of these objects upon it’s delightfully joyful surface.

If – the argument may continue – you went to see a magician and they said “I can age rocks”. And when you arrived at the performance you found that all they did was grind a stone to dust with a pestle and mortar, would you be impressed? No. It’s ludicrous. The rock was smashed and the banana has been harassed, but in neither case has time been a factor in the object’s change of state. Time is what happens to the banana itself while it resides in the fruit bowl. In other words it goes brown when the enzyme Polyphenol oxidase (PPO, phenolase) in the presence of oxygen from the air goes into a chemical reaction with the plant compounds to produce brown pigments known as melanins.

Chapter 2:

We stand back from the common sense argument to think about what has been said.

The argument against the banana case being a time machine seems to imply the following:

That time is imperceptible –that it is an invisible thing that you can neither touch nor examine. (That’s not very scientific is it?)

  • That time is not caused by human agency. All that giggling, wiggling, walking, jumping, throwing, sitting, standing, dancing, bouncing and being a cat isn’t the same thing as time.
  • The argument implies that time can only happen to things from within, not from without. Therefore this argument seems to support a theory of duality that has long since been discredited.
  • The argument state that time is natural, rather than cultural

It is my belief that we must fight for what is living against what is dead and try our upmost to overcome these assumptions.

Chapter 26:

In the common sense argument we found the basic principles that cut, sever, abort, stifle and restrain our understanding of how we fit within a fleeting, moving, energetic world. Those who argue that the banana case is not a time machine add to long running conspiracy that tries to set people apart from the reality inhabit.

In trying to uphold the belief that this object is a time machine I have tried hold out for another possibility. One that sees us being able to recognise the fullness of our existence. I do this, not like some hero in a HG Wells novel, offering something singularly unique as a product of my own ingenuity, but as a simple ode to the world around us: The banana cases, the fridges, washing machines, the drills, the hammers, those people with unruly eyebrows and those without, animals with large feet that allow them to get purchase on crumbly terrain, and those that do not.

All these things add the tapestry of this very complex world, which only advances when people and things act upon it, be it small particles invisible to the human eye or inflatable dolls, or banana cases. Time is not some abstract force, it is the result of everything that has an agency.

That is, everything you can imagine and everything that you can’t.


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