This contribution to the Common Knowledge symposium “Fuzzy Studies” considers how the ultramodernist aesthetics of Central Europe has related to and reacted against the region's political history and cartography. Central Europe has been a rich source of “soluble” realities that can be observed as they emerge, mature, and rapidly decay. Central European modernism, represented here by Adolf Loos in architecture and by Arnold Schoenberg and Leoš Janáček in music, experimented with blurry regions between presence and absence, light and shadow, sound and silence. Loos disrupted the logic of architecture, while Schoenberg and Janáček nearly dissolved the acoustic paradigm of sound. This essay argues that the curious positioning of Central Europe, with its frequently changing borders and national entities, conduced both to positive experiments in cultural vagueness and to a corrosive reaction against existing and potential identities, parameters, distinctions, foci, and logics.

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