Well, there's always 'eval, but it has issues and stigmas, and I've read that other Lispers look at you funny when you use it your code...
'in is also a built-in macro in arc.arc. Since Arc is a Lisp-1 (grr...), you can't bind it to an input stream without potentially breaking some other code...
(mac in (x . choices)
`(let ,g ,x
(or ,@(map1 (fn (c) `(is ,g ,c)) choices)))))
Back to the symbol dereferencing question -- I think one reason that this kind of thing is shied away from is that it starts to smell an awful lot like pointers. However, the control over evaluating that you get with macros is more than enough to take care of symbol dereferencing problems like this.
Right. I forgot to check the symbol before I used it like I sometimes do, via 'help or 'src (Anarki).
Is there anything wrong with "pointers"? As in this case, they can often be quite useful, and make the code (at least to me) simpler. Maybe I just think in pointers, and need to learn to use destructuring binding more. That won't work unless you know all of the variable names in advance, but I guess that's what a hash table is for :)