I posted a comment on a post by Jonathan Mayhew that led to some discussion between him and me about the following quotation from my translation of Durs Grünbein's "The Poem and its Secret," which appeared in the January 07 issue of Poetry: "When an average intellectual today reflects on the last century's great artistic and intellectual achievements, he first thinks of such names as Freud and Picasso, Stravinsky and Heisenberg, Hitchcock and Wittgenstein. It is impossible to imagine that one of them could be a poet. Not a single poet from the ancestral gallery (whether Pessoa, Cavafy, or Rilke, whether Yeats, Mandelstam, Valéry, Frost, or Machado) will cross the mind of the historically-informed thinker, who dares to claim a monopoly on Modernism anyway."
You can read the post and the comments if you want all the gory details, but the conclusion is what I wanted to post here: what "artistic" references do intellectuals use to support their points in cultural and political discussions? For example, when Frank Rich writes his weekly column on the state of prevarication and obfuscation in contemporary American politics, what "artistic" works (in the broadest sense) does he refer to?