John Bigg: The Dinton Hermit, 1793, © Wellcome Library, London. AsceticismÄsthetik der Existenz Antonio Lucci’s research projects in the field of Cultural Theory and History of Aesthetics are twofold. In the context of his habilitation, Lucci’s research deals with the topic of asceticism and its reception in the humanities of the 20th and 21st centuries, focusing on philosophy and cultural theory and history. The term »asceticism«, which originally oscillated between an objective connotation (a masterly work done to an object) and a later, subjective connotation (an exercise executed on the self with the goal of perfection), gains a strong ethical and political significance in antiquity, as Pierre Hadot and Michel Foucault have repeatedly pointed out. Gradually, asceticism is transformed into an »aesthetics of existence«, in which life, form and style merge. From the beginning, the ascetic is the one who has completely transformed his or her own life through a series of exercises, and has attained a form-of-life based on a series of individual practices that have radically and profoundly changed his nature and his original being. These practices have given him a completely new character, a character that differs entirely from the traditions, morality and the customs in his community of origin and home country (also in terms of religion and politics).This change, the separation from the world and the previous life, takes place through a radical transformation of the life practices and of the exercises through which the subject performs itself. The subject turns into a laboratory in which the »spiritual exercises« function as »technologies of the self«, whose aim is a feedback-effect: they influence the constitution of the subject and thus modify its nature. This group of exercises should always to be understood as a set of practices that are directly related to a state of the world, to a tradition or to a collectivity. Those who choose to radically transform their own life through exercises that will change the outward appearance and the inner form, do so through a precisely defined set of cultural techniques that cause isolation, but that at the same time relate the subject to others. Image: John Bigg: The Dinton Hermit, Line engraving by Wilkes, Wonderful Magazine and Marvellous Chronicle, London: C. Johnson 1793, © Wellcome Library, London.