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I find Lisp a bit unsettling because when you look at the code it's like you're looking at pure abstraction... there is a lack of semantic/symbolic content to latch on to and feel 'anchored.' Gives you the feeling that if you use Lisp, you'll have to be thinking hard the whole time you're using it.

I'd be careful about drawing any conclusions from a first, second, or even tenth impression. That unsettling feeling may just be unfamiliarity. What you really want is a sense of what it would be like after you've developed a feel for it - admittedly something of a chicken-and-egg problem.

What used to feel like "pure abstraction" to me now feels like lightweight (if dense) code whose shape is determined by the problem rather than by arbitrary constraints and noise.

The standard image macro meme for newcomers to Lisp is this: http://img264.imageshack.us/img264/1397/lispnd7.png But I agree there's something more as you work with the language and start mastering macros, perhaps it's similar to the Tetris Effect, and the process takes you from frightful screams to delusions of grandeur back to solid practicality and programs that solve a problem. The process may take a while.

There is one part of Lisp which is not transported by looking at code. Lisp makes code data and allows code to transform other code. So what you see might either be the process of some transformation or it might be transformed before it is run. What you see is not necessarily what executes. Also the interactive process during development, its tools, its working with code is not easy to understand by 'looking' at code.

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