MY WRITING TO JOHN MAYER 2010–THE PRESENT AND HOW IT BECAME AS LA DIVINA COMMEDIA WITH A TOUR OF HELL
by SHILOH RICHTER
23 January 2023
KATY PERRY “THE ONE WHO IS SENT” OPENS THE GATE
JOHN MAYER AND KATY PERRY WERE ALREADY FRIENDS IN EARLY SPRING 2009, even before “Half Of My Heart” was recorded
Photo for John and Katy’s duet “Who You Love” on John’s Paradise Valley (2013)
“Once in a while, you get shown the lightIn the strangest of places if you look at it right”
John convinced Katy in early 2009 to release “Waking Up in Vegas” as a single which became her last single release from One of the Boys (2008) on 21 April 2009.
In Inferno, Canto 9 inside the fifth circle Dante is told by the demons refusing them entry to the City of Dis to turn around and go back on his “mad road”--alone, that he doesn’t belong here. (It is what most Poets are told.) But Virgil insists they can’t be stopped, stating that, as commentator Teodolinda Barolini on Digital Dante puts it, there’s a “transcendent force that legitimizes their journey, saying categorically that their journey cannot be hindered because of its origin,” this higher power guaranteeing them through this Hell. Even as he himself is denied entry into the city, Virgil still tells Dante, “We have to win this battle.” This closed gate is like Dante’s own exile from Florence, and with the refusal to open it to even Virgil, it is a denial of the Poets and Poetry themselves outside the city gates both on Earth and in Hell. Inside the city are the heretics who have denied both Christ and the immortality of the soul–both of which are what Dante is accomplishing in writing the full journey. And so the heretics’ denial of such is also the denial of Dante and Virgil and the Poets and Poetry of the ages.
700 years later, it still has happened in our own time.
Katy started out in gospel music with her debut album Katy Hudson (2001), the same year John released Room for Squares with “City Love.”
“All Along the Watchtower . . .”
Approaching this gate Dante saw flamed signals happen between two watchtowers in Canto 8 where later will be seen that the female furies rip at themselves and scream at Dante and threaten him. (They say they should have slain Theseus—who tellingly was able to make it to the twisted nature of the Minotaur inside the labyrinth and kill it. But Dante’s task, as one will see, is to go further, and their referral is to this threat of the Poet’s ability. It is no wonder they want to keep him outside the gates if he can loosen Hell where they trap everyone in punishment.) The flamed signals between the watchtowers upon the approach resemble the way in which those in society, unspoken, signal to each other that some ethereal greatness has broken through, or is about to, and for some this threat must be stopped from the way to ultimate beauty and freedom, and to not know their secret and fearful creation of Hell. This sensing is often picked up on by the inherent possibilities somehow apparent in the artist’s light that immediately strike the signal; it is the sensing of the quiet genius, the innate wonder, the effervescence, even the core joy one emits without words about what one sees in one's own ’mind’s eye’ that turns out to be real and eternal. The “signals'' between are “unspoken” because it happens as if there is a pact with those in Hell (or culture) to put a stop to such life-affirming momentum and audacity which is often accompanied by high intelligence, openness, and kindness. They like to rip that apart for every anger within. They must, it seems, say “no” at every turn, then turn brutal when necessary. Squelch the spirit.
It is a catch for beauty that may get through hell and leave hell behind. Perhaps even transform the world. It seems human conditioning has been structured to be alerted that way and try to put the light out. Thus, the flames lit on each of the watchtowers are the signals that someone of the sublime is about to get through to know the structure and cause of Hell, the agreement to lock them out, let there be no opening up of Hell, no seeing further than the unnatural Minotaur hidden in the center of the labyrinth on Earth covering up the internal of the once feminine culture of ancient Crete.
John at 25 at the Grammy Awards on 23 February 2003
And so to have the city gates closed on one who had been the city’s own bright, shining light is as old as Poetry itself. And so Virgil’s words, “We have to win this battle,” are spoken from the lineage from 800 BC with Homer to his 19 BC to 1308 AD, to the Poet who would receive it from his Poetic guides.
What happened outside these city gates also matches what happened to Jesus when the city officials denied that he could heal the blind or be the Son of God and question why he breaks the rules of performing a miracle on a Sabbath. There are all the reasons why Jesus cannot be dual-natured, both human and eternal, Christ, and why he cannot be allowed to be considered as such. This comparison is not happenstance on Dante’s part, as he has his own signals, and in this very portion before the watchtowers: he has been leading to the Holy Words that will open the gate, which are references to this story and verse of Jesus in John 9:7 in the Hebrew gospels (books then taken by the city to rule the city, but still locking the original, the eternal, outside the gate).
“Then He told him, ‘Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (which means ‘Sent’).”
There are many unnamed references in Cantos 8 and 9 to this verse and comparison leading to the identification of that exact verse and thus also of what Dante is accomplishing like the dual-natured human-eternal Christ and doing it with the Poetry. In the verse before, Jesus spits on the ground, makes mud or clay, and then applies it to the “blind” man’s eyes. This denial here in Hell outside the city gates matches the people who denied Dante and who are entrenched in the mud outside the City of Dis. This is no healing of the blind now, when Dante has the right to want vengeance on those who tried to silence him and take away his home. Dante is lunged at by one in the “mud” who cannot see Dante’s value and who in life had kept Dante exiled outside the city and took his property. It is a reference and comparison not only to the mud Jesus used, but also to the blindness. Virgil tells him it is right to want the man to be further engulfed in the mud and ripped apart–one of the few times Dante openly rebukes a sufferer’s actions in life. A denial of the miracle of Dante’s Poetry leads to a different outcome in hell than: “So the man went and washed, and came back seeing.” Another of Dante’s signal to this verse is that the one who is coming to open the gate is being “Sent” as opposed to the angels in hell who had been rained down from heaven, as Barolini writes, “Dante describes the guardians of the walls of Dis as “da ciel piovuti” — “rained from heaven” (Inf. 8.83) — thus reminding us that devils were once angels. They fell from heaven when they followed the rebellious Lucifer” and the difference of the one coming to open the gate: “The next canto will reveal the cause of this being’s potency: he is “sent from heaven”, “da ciel messo” (Inf. 9.85). In other words, the travelers now await the arrival of an angel.” That word “Sent” is explicitly defined in John 9:7 at the word “Siloam” “which means Sent.” While the word Siloam is a translation of my name, there’s no way I could open the city gate for the blind on my own. And thus the need for a Sent angel. And enters Katy Perry. The other miracle here is that John 9:7 holds a reference to John Clayton (clay of the earth) Mayer’s (a mayor giving the key to the city) full name and the year he began his journey in Atlanta, ‘97.
John and Katy in August 2012
There’s a much further story in how Katy was born to this, like being born within two weeks of the culmination of a huge cultural fraud in 1984 that had begun in the 1940s, and her five planet conjunctions in the depths of Scorpio. But that’s another (huge) story we won’t take the lid off just yet.
The Furies at the Gate
After her success in publicly pulling off the lie in 2010 about a “love” life, Taylor Swift stayed deliberately headstrong and snide publicly against John knowing that he was not going to cave to a romantic public coupling and, not able to make it a legitimate relationship, instead tried to force him into a relentless adversarial connection, and thus also obligate him to submit to something that would stick in the headlines, good or bad. It is the main reason he disappeared from being public fodder. She would not relent on the Speak Now Tour in 2011, performing “Dear John” as if it were true and she the victim, while making covert romantic videos as continued unwanted messages to John. She continued to plagiarize his ideas such as turning his “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” (which she references again on the cover of Midnights and trying to turn his ideas into her own story and territory) into snow in a room for her “Back to December” video released on 1 February 2011, she referencing December 2009 when John had performed with her for “Half of My Heart” promotion and had been kind to her enough to be seen in public. But no kindness was enough to satiate or deter her to keep away.
2011 was hidden, covert attempts at romance with John after she had just publicly shamed him and left the public believing he had done something akin to raping a 19 year old, while also refusing to relent about the song’s plagiarism and untruths—in order for her to gain dominance and the attention in the situation in the headlines, a seeming power over him publicly. And then people saw her as “powerful” when it was actually incredibly invasive and abusive and a ploy for hate-mongering with herself as the center of attention. And so John removed himself completely and kept only his closest friends around him in the studio making Born and Raised, and making rare low-key appearances such as at the Village Underground in NYC and Hotel Cafe in LA, debuting heart-breaking new songs like “Go Easy on Me” with lyrics such as,
“Go easy on me for the night has been longI'm not quite as strong as you see meI came here alone and I'll leave on my ownThe next stop is home so go easy on me” [ . . . ]Oh, I see in your eyes, you don't realize what you're doingSo, here's some advice, never hurts to be niceIf you're not gonna be, then go easy on meGo easy on me, go easy on me
and “Speak for Me.”
Using his scarves to identify him, Taylor threatened with her publicity to make sure the stadiums were empty for him in the “Back to December” video and then tried to force another untrue story with his scarf in a romantic scenario with “All Too Well.” She was determined to not relent after delivering the unwarranted humiliation of “Dear John” in her desire to feed off of having a hate backlash in order to punish with the goal of staying in the spotlight with him specifically. Even friends of John’s and Katy’s like Jake Gyllenhaal and Harry Styles offered up to give her the “romantic” publicity she craved (and forced and exploited) and in their generosity to take the undeserved public hate off of John. In actuality, Taylor Swift has no “exes,” not even One Direction friend Joe Alwyn, as every move and word she has spoken for all this time has been, and provably, an obsession with John, and beyond that, a repeat of his intellectual property including his social media, and also her rabid compulsion of plagiarism which is her desperate need for control and ownership and power over others. I suppose she was raised to think of humans and intellectual property as money and all there for the taking. (I have little idea why people like Jack Antonoff, who is very aware she plagiarizes even album covers, would assist her in rapidly “writing” and releasing abusive material other than for status, fame, and money.) The latest Midnights is a “reference” (plagiarism of the idea and lyric) to John’s song "Quiet" from his debut EP Inside Wants Out 1999:
MidnightLock all the doorsAnd turn out the lightsFeels like the end of the worldThis Sunday nightThere's not a sound.Outside the snow's comin' downSomehow I can't seem to findThe quiet inside my mind
Her appetite for the control and attention would not be satiated or dissuaded, as it could not be in 2008 and 2009 leading to John to try to offer a public kindness, when after she had been copying John’s social media material he offered her “Half of My Heart” so that, given that she was included on a project of his, she would have to stop using intellectual property publicly as her own and referring to him. But with her, the open door to him meant taking advantage and crossing personal boundaries and personal decisions, especially with selling John to the press. The “crime” of which she would accuse him in actuality was that she was repeating and using his blog material, etc., in 2008, John offered a little peace bridge in 2009 to get her to curtail whatever it was that was making her plagiarize and follow him so closely, and when on the making of “Half of My Heart” it didn’t turn romantic, she had the “you messed with me” scenario and—again, now further, making his lyrics about her as she would then obsessively do—using the reference of his lyrics, this time, ”I don’t hit on 19.” Being seen with him publicly, suddenly–she believed–gave her the right to own him publicly. From then on, everything he did or wrote had to be about her and she interjected herself into his life in every photograph she copied of his, every time she spoke publicly, every album.
Where I came into it was that to her, me writing on-line to John in 2010, I was a “nobody” and therefore had no power or value as a Being in her eyes, and with plagiarizing somehow meaning power to her, she believed she could freely then take everything I wrote, even the scenario of writing John, for her own and no one would ever know because she was known as the “songwriter” with no one noticing the patterns. Many in the industry have known what is happening, like Scooter Braun, but Taylor plays the victim with a vengeance and revels in the power to publicly shame and generate hate, and the press, themselves loving to shame and punish, eats up the material she provides in her fool-proof Anglo conservative stance. Hate and sustaining the adversarial stance sell, over and over, even though it’s actually a repeat of a mental pattern. And yes, it is a great deal like what those in Dante’s Hell do in lashing out in threats and slurs in their fury.
And because Katy had been there since the beginning and was no “nobody” in the press and next to Taylor, Katy stepped into the hostile situation in a loving, protective, and massively supportive way, putting herself in the line of fire, and vowing to stand by John in the moment the public was believing the manipulation and deceit as reality. Katy’s pure love of John and how their friendship had deepened in his loving support of her was the barrier to keep Taylor from continuing to sell John to the public—-or at least at that point, open the view into the Hell. Katy’s pureness and sincerity, her generosity and care, were exactly what was needed to take care of the human beings and to keep the music moving. Whereas fame is everything to Taylor giving her the power to invade and manipulate, even a way to force relationships, Katy had the fame and the conscience, along with a beautiful and powerful insight into the actual power and love of music, what had driven her her whole life to sing. No one was getting through Taylor’s Hell without the threat of being ripped apart by her fans and press. Taylor immediately, as they do in Dante’s Hell, moved to throw hate towards Katy, but couldn’t do it honestly and Katy made sure the gates were opened. It just makes it more lovely and divine that it was using holy words with our names in it.
The John Mayer Trio is reuniting for a benefit in NYC:
Photo: Beacon Theater for LOVE ROCKS NYC on 9 March 2023