I bought and read Christopher Butler's Postmodernism: A very short introduction (Oxford: Oxford Paperbacks, 2002) and found it a very helpful overview of the shape and impact of postmodernist thought. I was familiar with much of the content from earlier studies in theology and literature, but the material on the arts was newer to me. I appreciated the fact that Butler didn't content himself with just describing the contours of postmodernism but also offered some reflection and criticism.
It seems to me that postmodernist thought has been of real benefit in identifying power relationships in various discourses and in questioning totalizing metanarratives. But then it runs into difficulty. As Butler points out a number of times, postmodernism's hermeneutic of suspicion is an effective tool of deconstruction but it makes any constructive effort difficult, if not impossible.
Where do we go as a society after postmodernism? Do we simply opt for power politics? Do we shut our eyes and fall back on an uncritical romanticism? Both? Neither?
And where does this leave the arts? Do they have anything new and constructive to say or should artists content themselves with exposing and questioning? How long can irony and detachment be satisfying?