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... point on a different point

    Isn't the right decomposition of functionality here to have a system-supplied
    function called, say, READ-AND-DO-FILE-ATTRIBUTES; then LOAD would call it
    on source files, and lusers who have random data files would make the
    determination of attribute-information or data programmatically.

If by "system-supplied" you mean a part of the Common Lisp
specification, I don't think that we should elevate the current concept
of file attributes and mode lines to the status of a language feature if
we can possibly avoid this.  To establish this convention by treaty
among the suppliers of Common Lisps with Lisp-Machine-like environments
would be OK, however.

-- Scott