I consider myself to be fairly well read. Let me rephrase that. I've read more books than most people, and I'm familiar with many of the so called classics. I'm not saying I've read all of the classics, but I'd be willing to bet that I've got a cliff's notes level understanding of a lot of them, and can maybe even fake it on a lot more.
What baffles me are some of the people that have no idea about the topics of certain landmark works. Take A Brave New World and 1984 as examples. I was sitting in a meeting with a group of people. Among this group of people were two copywriters. One of the projects that we are working on has some big brother, TIA and carnivorish type attributes, and I made a comment referencing A Brave New World and Big Brother. I think a couple of people in the room got the reference, but at that point one of the copywriters responded with a quip about the television show Survivor. WTF? I mean, holy Jesus bleeding Christ, WHAT THE FUCK? WHAT THE FUCK DOES SURVIVOR HAVE TO DO WITH EITHER OF THOSE BOOKS? I can't reproduce exactly what this person said, because I think I blacked out for a second. When I regained my senses I was stricken with an overwhelming desire to commit ritual suicide in front of these people.
Let me just say, that I don't expect everyone to be familiar with every semi famous piece of literature. Hell, I hadn't read A Brave New World until a year or so ago. Even before then I knew that the television show Survivor had no business in the same sentence as A Brave New World. (Yes I know that last sentence was ironic. Too bad.) However this person was a copywriter. Someone who's craft is the English language (Am I being generous with the word "craft"?). Shouldn't you at least be familiar with who practiced your craft before you and what work they did. I have a degree in computer science, and I wouldn't have gotten through school if I wasn't at least partially familiar with the work of Pascal, Leibnitz, Babbage, Lovelace, Gödel, Turing and Von Neumann. Is this too much to ask? I don't think it rises to the level of not being able to find your own state on a map, but its getting there. OK. I'm done ranting.