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DEFVAR semantics

Looking over page 68 of CLtL, I have a question about

    From the description, it seems the (DEFVAR <variable>) should
    never give <variable> any sort of value.  It should simply
    "proclaim <variable> to be special and may perform other
     system-dependent \bookkeeping-actions/."  Giving <variable>
    a default value seems like more than simple bookkeeping.

    Is this a reasonable interpretation?

- Stephen