From this HN comment:
The central question for any programming language isn’t how comfortably it welcomes casual newcomers; it’s how effectively it creates a human:machine interface for the committed.
Most criticisms of how Lisp looks can be likened to criticisms of a frozen screen from a crashed video game. One needs to play the video game. Lisp acquires its meaning in short time scales from the experience of syntax-aware editing, a live experience.
Lisp acquires its meaning in long time scales from the experience of using macros to rewrite the language to exactly suit the problem at hand. Haskell is safer, faster, more densely expressive, but not as plastic.
Lisp appeals to woodworkers; other languages appeal to people who like to buy nice furniture, sit in it and get to work. I can see both sides, and I’ve worked hard to experience both sides.