Top 49 Ali Smith Quotes of 2020

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“My father is from Newark in Nottinghamshire and my mother is from the very north of Ireland. They’ve ended up in Scotland, where my father – well, both of them – will always be seen as having come from somewhere else.”

― Ali Smith

“When we meet a work of art, there’s something about that encounter that isn’t fixed in time, but rather, it unfixes time: the shaft opens. The past and present exist in the same moment, and we know, as beings, that we are connected. All the people who lived before us, all who will come after us, are connected in this moment.”

― Ali Smith

“I really like jackets and tend to buy them to the detriment of my need of all the other items.”

― Ali Smith

“I’m quite good on the harmonica and can get a tune out of most musical instruments, so long as the tune is ‘Oh Susannah.’”

― Ali Smith

“People tend to see modernism as the opposite of a celebration. They see it as a fracturing and an art built round an absence, but it’s really a celebration of our existence.”

― Ali Smith

“I don’t want a tombstone. You could carve on it ‘She never actually wanted a tombstone.’”

― Ali Smith

“A game one of my sisters will play with me in my first year of being alive is called Good Baby, Bad Baby. This consists of being told I am a good baby until I smile and laugh, then being told I am a bad baby until I burst into tears. This training will stand me in good stead all through my life.”

― Ali Smith

“I see the difficulty of kids in going to university, the difficulty of kids in schools getting arts education, so that the arts and drama and the creative arts are extracurricular. They aren’t: they are at the centre, and they are the equipment we so desperately need in the world.”

― Ali Smith

“I grew up completely alone but with all the comforts of knowing I had a cushioning family structure around me – and yet I could free myself from it.”

― Ali Smith

“Words are like untying a corset – you can move into this great space with them.”

― Ali Smith

“Art is one of the prime ways we have of opening ourselves and going beyond ourselves. That’s what art is: it’s the product of the human being in the world and imagination, all coming together.”

― Ali Smith

“I’m blessed in my good friends, and some of them happen to be writers, though that’s almost never what our friendships are about. And every writer I’ve ever read, living or dead, has in one way or another helped and inspired. I have a feeling it’s important not to mix the two up.”

― Ali Smith

“What I know most is that the difference between us is what makes us interesting and attractive and problematic and exciting and vital to each other. Give me difference over indifference any day.”

― Ali Smith

“I had a job, I got ill, I left the job to get better, and while I was getting better, I wrote some stories. I sent them to some publishers and the fifth one who replied said they’d take them. Then they went bankrupt. Then that bankrupt publisher got bought by a bigger firm. Story: in the end is the beginning, and in the beginning is the end.”

― Ali Smith

“Even things which seem separate and finished are infinitely connected and will infinitely connect. This connection happens as soon as you let it, as soon as you engage – as soon as you even attempt to engage.”

― Ali Smith

“We’d never expect to understand a piece of music on one listen, but we tend to believe we’ve read a book after reading it just once.”

― Ali Smith

“How could 30 years be the blink-of-the-eye it felt? It was the difference between black-and-white footage of the Second World War and David Bowie on ‘Top of the Pops’ singing ‘Life on Mars.’”

― Ali Smith

“You never know if you’re a writer. You can’t trust it. If you woke up and said, ‘I’m a writer,’ it would be gone. You wouldn’t see anything for miles – even the dust would be running away.”

― Ali Smith

“I was at the tail end of the family. The next brother along was already seven years older than me. I remember growing up by myself, playing games by myself.”

― Ali Smith

“Fashion is fickle, and I was published because I was fashionable. Because I was gay.”

― Ali Smith

“Nothing is harmful to literature except censorship, and that almost never stops literature going where it wants to go either, because literature has a way of surpassing everything that blocks it and growing stronger for the exercise.”

― Ali Smith

“A good argument, like a good dialogue, is always a proof of life, but I’d much rather go and read a book.”

― Ali Smith

“But everything written has style. The list of ingredients on the side of a cornflakes box has style. And everything literary has literary style. And style is integral to a work. How something is told correlates with – more – makes what’s being told. A story is its style.”

― Ali Smith

“All we need to do, reader or writer, from first line to final page, is be as open as a book, and be alive to the life in language – on all its levels.”

― Ali Smith

“I went to the top of Vesuvius and looked in.”

― Ali Smith

“It’s the word ‘artful’; it’s such a great word, with its dark and its light side, its art and its cunning, the craft and the crafty of it – I’ve been preoccupied with the word ‘artful’ and the twin notions of ‘cornucopia’ and ‘pickpocket’ it suggests for quite some time.”

― Ali Smith

“As for Aliki – if you were to stand in the middle of Rome and say the name Sophia Loren, or Paris and say the name Catherine Deneuve or Brigitte Bardot, or L.A. and the name Marilyn Monroe, it’s like standing in Athens, or anywhere in wide-flung Greece, and saying Aliki Vougiouklaki. A huge star – and so little known elsewhere in the world.”

― Ali Smith

“I wouldn’t call my work Modernist. I would rust if I try to think about labels. I’d feel like the Tin Man in ‘The Wizard of Oz.’”

― Ali Smith

“Short stories consume you faster. They’re connected to brevity. With the short story, you are up against mortality. I know how tough they are as a form, but they’re also a total joy.”

― Ali Smith

“We’re well past the end of the century when time, for the first time, curved, bent, slipped, flash forwarded, and flashed back yet still kept rolling along. We know it all now, with our thoughts traveling at the speed of a tweet, our 140 characters in search of a paragraph. We’re post-history. We’re post-mystery.”

― Ali Smith

“Love and the imagination are connected.”

― Ali Smith

“Trees are great. Don’t get me started about how clever they are, how oxygen-generous, how time-formed in inner cyclic circles, how they provide homes for myriad creatures, how – back when this country was covered in forests – the word for sky was an Old English word that meant ‘tops of trees.’”

― Ali Smith

“I don’t have a night stand. If I read at night in bed or too close to sleep-time, I lie awake thinking in the dark for hours.”

― Ali Smith

“If you can read the world as a construct, you can ask questions of the construct, and you can suggest ways to change the construct.”

― Ali Smith

“In the end, will truth matter? Of course truth will matter. Truth isn’t relative. But there’s going to be a great sacrifice on the way to getting truth to matter to us again, to finding out why it does, and God knows what shape that sacrifice will take.”

― Ali Smith

“What’s the point of art, of any art, if it doesn’t let us see with a little bit of objectivity where we are?”

― Ali Smith

“The rhythmical unit of the syllable is at the back of all of it – the word, the phrase, the sentence, the syntax, the paragraph, and the way the heart moves when you read it.”

― Ali Smith

“I have the feeling that all stories travel with an understory.”

― Ali Smith

“When you fall in love with a book, something especially interesting and exciting is happening because of the way language works on us as human beings. And I love language.”

― Ali Smith

“What are we doing in the world that we are denying people the right to an open education? And we are denying it by making education something you have to pay for so drastically. How are people supposed to afford this?”

― Ali Smith

“My nature is feminist. How could you not be a feminist and be alive? The world is full of brilliant, interesting women.”

― Ali Smith

“I have a theory, now – that the whole of the Renaissance was peopled with girls dressed as boys so they could make art.”

― Ali Smith

“The things in life which try to pin us down are the things we have to try to work against.”

― Ali Smith

“You never know what you’re going to end up with when you sit down to write something. At the end, if it holds, it can do this multifarious thing – which is to open things rather than close them, to make them bigger rather than smaller, to cross those divides which we live every day of our lives.”

― Ali Smith

“There’s a point at which we make our lives, but we also take the path which is given to us.”

― Ali Smith

“I’m happy to have nothing, so long as I’m sure I’ve been working.”

― Ali Smith

“I met an internationally esteemed writer at a literary party being given in her honor. She was wearing a beautiful pink, flouncy, frilly dress. I complimented her on it. She said, ‘Ach, it’s my nightgown. I couldn’t decide what else to wear.’”

― Ali Smith

“Every great narrative is at least two narratives, if not more – the thing that is on the surface and then the things underneath which are invisible.”

― Ali Smith

“The world asks us to be quickly readable, but the thing about human beings is that we are more than one thing. We are multiple selves. We are massively contradictory.”

― Ali Smith
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