Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s short ﬁlm Luminous People (Khon Rueang
Saeng, 2007) enacts a funereal ceremony.1 In this ﬁfteen- minute ﬁlm a boat
moves up the Mekong River, and relatives and friends perform a Buddhist
ceremony in which they release a father’s ashes into the waters. On the re-
turn journey a young man improvises a song about encountering his dead
father in a dream. While members of the funeral party relax into sleep, quiet
sorrow, and playful teasing, a voice- over relates the story of the encounter
again and again:
Last night I dreamed that my father paid me a visit.
Last night I dreamed that my father came.
I was very happy.
I was overjoyed.
Rather than vocalize a leave- taking from the father, the song describes a
continued relation with him. According to Theravada Buddhist doctrine,
the funereal ceremony performed in Luminous People would be intended
to initiate the pro cess of detachment from the dead. Rather than engender
such a break, however, the ceremony seems to prompt continued attachment
I N T R O D U C T I O N . B U D D H I S T S E X U A L C O N T E M P O R A N E I T Y