Wow, that turned out to be a very engaging read -- thanks.
I think my strongest reaction involved this point, and all the places you went as you pursued it:
A template is just a program, but you quote the code, not the output.
Well, not exactly. Based on the established wisdom of separating data/content from code, a template is a way of representing the content in a manner that is compatible with, yet still separable from, the code. A lot of stuff is needed in the code that really just does not belong in the template, just as there's a lot of stuff in a template that does not belong in code.
Your various gyrations in templating syntax, to support a dizzying assortment of coding constructs within the template data, all end up (from the sound of it) as an elaborate way to obfuscate the displayable content of the template files. But if it cooks for you, hey, who am I to knock it? ("++" in any case)
I realize you've only given a very cursory description of some of the details, but I had to wonder what the documentation must be like for such a system, and how long it would take someone besides you to grok it.
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