Or as I said elsewhere, Leica has managed to make lack of features seem desirable. No mean feat.
Precisely. And seriously. If (when) photography is a function, performed for the sole end of producing a particular image, a whiz-bang dslr is usually better. If (when) photography is an end in itself - a process with an intended outcome but undertaken in part for its own sake - the simplicity and mechanical purity/quality of the Leica makes it better for some of us.
The Harley analogy is apt. if your goal is transport from A to B, the Harley is a lousy answer for myriad reasons (cost, comfort, performance, lack of cargo space, noise). But if your goal is to ride then, for many, doing it with a Harley is part of the essence of the experience.
Those of us who feel this way about Leicas are not deluding ourselves. There are a lot of other things I would do with the money I spend on the red dot if I weren't actually getting something out of it. I have sufficient money to afford a Leica, but not mindlessly unlimited resources. It is a serious choice and commitment. It's also not just about what some call 'psychological compensators', either. I sold my M8 at great loss because I felt it was inadequate as a photographic tool.
I would also never rely on a Leica M to make a living as any sort of commercial shooter (which I have done). That would just be stupid. I would own a whiz-bang DSLR (several of them) and maybe a MFSLR. Like James, I would have the Leica too, if I could afford it, because it would allow me to cook something special every now and again. But mostly I would work with sufficiently sharp zooms on cameras that could get them in focus on whatever I was being paid to put in front of my camera.
All that said, there is (thankfully) a phalanx of rich nobs who think the most expensive camera must be best, and can afford it. These blessed folk keep Leica alive (any contribute to the well being of Phase and other companies as well) for the benefit of those of us who have somewhat more considered reasons for owning these very special tools.
Photography is both an art and a science. The M Leicas are good at the science (if not always the best) and rather strong on the art in the right hands.
If you don't agree, that's cool. If you don't agree because you have a different vision of the art that you can articulate, then I'm listening, because that's interesting. If you disagree because you don't agree on the measurement of the art part, then I just don't care. And I mean that in a nice way. If the paintings in this room of the gallery don't move you, walk to the next.