“Good sex writing, by contrast, is clear, precise and unillusioned in both senses: it refuses to take part in a diversionary pantomime of imagery; and it knows that sex is rooted in the physical. It is generally unobtrusive and undemonstrative. For this reason it makes no sense, as our critics have often argued, to institute a good sex prize, any more than it would to reward the best scene involving a kitchen garden or the most skilful use of semicolons. The awkwardness and evasion with which some writers describe sex, however, frequently point to more widespread stylistic flaws.”
But I have to disagree. Clear – yes, precise – yes, but unillusioned – no. Eroticism is not mating. A clear, precise and concrete narration of a sex act will give will give you the equivalent of a Nat Geo documentary passage on mating in humans. Eroticism is illusioned. Our inner erotic worlds are filled with imagery and metaphor. Sex is rooted in the physical, but eroticism is rooted in the brain, Mr. Beckman. And we don’t have sex, usually, for its procreative function but for its erotic pleasures.
Mr. Beckman commits the error of the bulk of literary critics, academics and social commentators in considering that sex scenes in literature should not arouse.
If he really believes that there is no difference in the well-wrought description of a sex scene and that of a kitchen garden, then I have to assume he’s got a problem with eroticism.