THE painted fire engines. The crowdfunded documentaries. The wee five-minute plays and the massive historical plays. The frenzy of Photoshop activity spraying onto social media. The Yestivals, the cool websites, the Wish Trees, the light projections on public buildings.

The Scottish rappers, Lady Alba’s “Bad Romance”, fiddlers and DJs and guitar heroes. The long lists of novelists, musicians, poets, filmmakers, attending meeting after meeting, in every corner of the land…

From two years' distance, looking back at the cresting wave of cultural activism that finally rolled over on September 18th, 2014, it all feels – to this active participant – very far away from where we are now. The idealism and evangelism of it all (earnest souls relating their fitful “Journeys To Yes” to hushed audiences) seems like a different universe.

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A universe before a hundred thousand new SNP members, the Sturgeon era, and historic electoral victories. A universe before Saatchi and Saatchi stuck Miliband in Salmond’s jacket pocket, riling up the English nationalist vote for Tory benefit. A universe before a Brexit vote that was fuelled by a brew of anti-immigration and British exceptionalism – in which Scotland yet again exercised its difference, if not (yet) its autonomy.

For arts and culture people (just like anyone else) this has been a constant pummelling – bruises all over their body politic, wondering where the next punch will land.

But the creative community has a specific anxiety. So many artists decided to step out of their ambiguous zones, their small-i “independence of mind”, and committed themselves to a Yes vote.

I wondered how some of them might be feeling right now, on this second anniversary of the indyref. Are these creatives still ready to swing their mikestands and software packages into the fray of an indyref2 – given that the fray looks increasingly more possible, as the Brexit departure shudders towards us?

Or are some of them recoiling and rethinking their positions and commitments? How could and should arts and culture be involved in the next constitutional heave and lurch?

Some creative Yessers aren’t deliberating – they’re just getting on with it. Blogs like Wings Over Scotland, Bella Caledonia and CommonSpace are thriving. A new Yes Directory App is about to be launched, digitally organising the old Yes networks.

This Sunday in Glasgow, the Scottish Independence Convention is hosting The Reassembly in Glasgow – featuring familiar cultural names from 2012-14 like writer Alan Bissett, musician Eddi Reader and comedian Janey Godley. Like spores in the ground waiting for the right conditions to flourish again, you’d have hoped that the intensity of the Yes movement had laid down some resources.

But what has surprised me in my brief sampling of Yes-identified arts and culture people (some on the record, some well off it) is their tentativeness. It’s as if two years of almost constant politicking, and that in a rather traditional, party-led form, has driven them wearily back to their artistic practice, with a vengeance.

And maybe by returning to their benches, they can find some resonant and authentic way for the “Scottish issue” to appear in their life and work.

My first port of call was the playwright David Greig, who wielded his sumptuous powers of language and drama in event after event in 2014, trying to make a “Yes” decision as complex and capacious as possible. Since then he was involved in the triumphant staging of Alasdair Gray’s Lanark, and has now become artistic director of the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh.

David is currently musing deeply on the purpose of theatre: “I think the arts more broadly, and theatre in particular, are the last truly civic spaces where we gather and encounter each other unmediated by screens.”

But when we gather there, what can happen to us? “Our binary thought patterns are disrupted by stories”, says Greig. “Us and them, right and left, Nat and Yoon – all those binaries are meaningless once the play begins, or the dancing starts, or the book opens. In the cultural space, we meet each other as humans. That’s why it’s so valuable. But these spaces need to be nourished and looked after.”

David says he is determined the Lyceum should be “a public, democratic space, where the folk of Edinburgh can encounter each other beyond fear and loathing, but in stories, music, conviviality, empathy and transcendence. That’s a theatre’s job.”

Poet and performer Jenny Lindsay was the powerhouse behind the events (and much else) in the fiercely independent pro-Yes cultural organisation National Collective. What her experience then, and since, tells her is that “there will always be a clash between movements and campaigns”.

Lindsay believed NC was originally building a cultural movement that would persist, no matter the indyref result, and no matter the interests of the official indy-supporting parties. (It didn’t work out that way: the site closed in 2015).

As for culture’s role in indyref2, Jenny is adamant that “any attempt to invent what we did from a top-down perspective is doomed to failure. Sure, you might get some big names coming along to do a stadium gig to preach to the converted – but we didn’t move from 23 per cent to 45 per cent Yes from the top down. That happened from the grassroots up”.

She asserts: “Those loud voices declaring that independence comes first and we can do all the ‘imagining a better Scotland’ stuff later might want to reflect on that. It was the cultural campaign, and the non-party political campaign, that got us that far.

“Any attempt to recreate that from what remains of the Yes ‘movement’ – which is a number of well-rested commentators, a few talking heads and the SNP – is doomed, as it will be a parody of what was achieved”, concludes Jenny. “I’ll be a bystander for the next one, campaigning-wise.”

The Stirling University literature academic Scott Hames is wondering about all the “Yes diehards who want to get the flags back out”. What would happen if they became “unhappily detached from a more elite, professional, party-guided process” – meaning an SNP (and others) who are currently making sober and strategic assessments about the prospects of indyref2, under much changed circumstances?

If they did become detached, says Hames, “I could imagine ‘culture’ and artists being asked to patch up the resulting holes in the Yes movement … it will be interesting to see if writers and other cultural brokers are asked – or are able – to play a different tune”.

In her recently published (and magisterial) volume of drama reviews, Scottish Theatre: A Field of Dreams, Joyce McMillan says about this sector what could easily be said about Scottish arts as a whole. “It often runs about twenty years ahead of formal politics in its recognition of cultural change, and a few years behind in its response to unpredictable events”.

What friends deep within the cultural institutions tell me is that Brexit, more than indyref2, is more directly concerning those in arts, film and the creative industries. They are worried about how it will impact on their work. It was particularly notable at the various Edinburgh festivals this year how anxious they were to proclaim their cosmopolitan openness. Remember “Welcome World” emblazoned across the Edinburgh Castle ramparts.

I’d like to know (and please, tell me) how much the current subtleties of Greig and Lindsay chime with the teeming networks of artists who put their heads above the parapet for Yes in 2014. If Joyce McMillan is right about the predictive antennae of Scottish artists, then Scotland twenty years hence may be a place that’s relaxed about the “binaries” of modern life, unwilling to place itself on either side of a divide. Yet even in the short-term, that could still be the basis for a new Indy2 tune from the artistic community.

If our route to full nationhood ends up going through the gate of EU membership, then the very least you can say is that this is a commitment to a complex, difficult, arguable future. Enough ambiguity, difference and grey areas there for an entire nation of artists to wrestle with for decades. Let’s see what history presents us with.

Joyce McMillan’s Scottish Theatre: Field of Dreams is out now. The Reassembly is this Sunday, at St Lukes in the Calton, 17 Bain Street, Glasgow.