The value of sex in writing isn't always reducible to plot, story and/or vicarious gratification. All of that is great, but those aren't the only ways to incorporate sex into fiction.
Sex is a shared and yet exclusive experience -- shared in the sense of perhaps involving a partner and perhaps not being private (depending on one's situation and proclivities); exclusive because specifically linked to one's private perception of it.
The victory of sex, the emotional beauty of it, can be the sense that two people are sharing the same act as if they occupied one body. The tragedy can be that they can never truly share that experience in the most literal sense. The paradox of sex is an intense part of romantic love. I would argue that stories about lovers kept apart are often metaphors for this. The complication can symbolize repression, but it can also symbolize lovers' banishment to the helmets of their skulls, to the limitations of their joining.
Someone who writes intuitively about sex can offer insights into an experience that others might treat as rote. That person's style and point of view might also telegraph levels of meaning that wouldn't be there if they were writing about anything else.
The sense of being impaled on a grid of desire, of being the vessel for a kind of grim drive, is the nightside of sex writing and it, too, can be revelatory if written about consciously and well.
Peter Handke depicts an odd disconnected automatism in "The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick"; I can see that mindset being interesting in a first-person or third-person-limited sex scene, too.
Molly Bloom's soliloquy in Ulysses is an obvious example of transcendent writing about sex, but there are many, many others.
Fine examples have been written by friends of mine throughout the years; sex scenes add to the sensibility, the aesthetic, the sweep, the inclusiveness of their fiction. I wouldn't say that sex necessarily added to their plots in every case because some of them were writing a different kind of fiction, which places more emphasis on rich sensory input and the interplay of thought than storytelling.
This is sometimes called stream of consciousness writing, which some people associate only with automatic writing (like Breton's) or unrevised writing (like Kerouac's), but which can be as carefully done as any conventional narrative that emphasizes story and plot. In many cases, the stream is carefully edited and rewritten.
John Hawkes' The Blood Oranges is a fine example of that. It is also a novel which is largely about sexual experience.
Last edited by Prestidigitweeze; 04-04-2011 at 05:38 PM.