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It's an ad-hoc solution, but how about:

   local function log_start_time()
      local logfile = assert("log.txt", "a"))
local _autoclose_logfile <close> = arg[1] ~= "--log-everything" and logfile

It would be more flexible if the <close> attribute doesn't imply the <const> (it would be possible to just rebind logfile to nil). But I understand why it was designed that way.