Niki is an expert on the ascetic John Cassian and the French philosopher Michel Foucault. In this episode Niki and I discuss her newest book, Sites of the Ascetic Self. Niki is most interested in daily practices of discipline that can help and enable individuals to open to certain forms of self-transformation including transformation of our bodies, our emotions and our relation to other people. She discusses how her history places her into relationship with her current areas of study. We are shaped as subjects in this world, therefore one of Niki’s core questions is: how can we become self-shaping and self-forming? Looking at the kinds of daily practices we each live and how those practices influence and inform our reality. We explore the value of recognizing the various interpretations and agencies that are present in every moment. We define the terms such as ethics, ascetic, and others. We discuss the modern understanding of mental health and the progressive pathologizing of one’s relationship with the voices, urges, and powers formed within one’s “head” or self. She is interested in the construction of one’s character as a way of life.