MY WRITING TO JOHN MAYER 2010–THE PRESENT AND HOW IT BECAME AS LA DIVINA COMMEDIA WITH A TOUR OF HELL
by SHILOH RICHTER
25 January 2023
THOSE IN TAYLOR SWIFT’S HELL, STUCK IN A REPEATED FALSE PAST, CAN’T SEE THE PRESENT MOMENT
Mayer fans have cried and walked beside John through Born & Raised when he had taken the space and time to deliver a soul-searching masterpiece (and still wanting to know what happened to Walt Grace on his Submarine Ride); they found the hope of love, freedom and promising new horizons in Paradise Valley with him (even visited Pine Creek Lodge in 2022 to help with a flooding), took up The Search for Everything, even when it meant alone with only the Poet to guide on an open unknown road, and found the wildest blue in Sob Rock, arriving at an inner realization of the pain and not-knowing making it all not only
(Photo: Bolt of Sunshine, John Mayer at Dead & Company’s Playing in the Sand 2023)
worthwhile, but supremely freeing and beautiful. Healing and sublime. In other words, they’ve lived their lives through the moments and felt everything with the Poet as guide from the very depths. And their lives have transformed and opened because of it. There’s no regret as even the past has its revelations of dreams come true.
Taylor Swift fans haven’t moved past the “created” anger of 2010, though they think they are looking towards some kind of enforced retribution in the “future”; They stay in fury trapped in the anger of a story they heard many years ago and then repeated again as if to try to force it to be true with continued anger twelve years later–though it is only what they “heard” and “repeated” themselves: lies, cover-ups, gossip, and power- and money-hungry tabloids ruling their lives instead of really living. That’s what Taylor Swift has delivered: a made-up and then “heard” reason to hate and they believed her. She made herself the victim to be the center of false attention. It’s a hell for everyone.
And further into that reveals backwards into the past (and more anger), not forwards or in this moment, but deeper into Hell. That is not to experience freedom of the spirit. They’re bent on punishment on trauma and lies, which is trapped in their own pain.
“When in the world, [she] was presumptuous;there is no good to gild [her] memory,and so [her] shade down here is hot with fury.” Canto 8
When Virgil and Dante get inside the City in Canto 9 Dante discovers that those filled with hostility are ‘dead within being dead,’ as Teodolinda Barolini points out on Digital Dante, as they are not only dead to the living but have to be in tombs that are also heated by flames, a contrapasso, a just and matching punishment of their interior fury of which they cannot get out. (And Taylor isn’t about to let them out.) It is also with speaking with two of the men in the tombs that Dante had known in life that he discovers an imperative point about Hell: they can’t see the Present Moment, and therefore when the future becomes the Present Moment, something that happens divinely with Poetry, they will, as the shade tells him, lose all awareness.
TAYLOR SWIFT’S AGGRESSIVE INCURSION OF JOHN’S HOME BASE IN NYC AND THE PLAGIARISM OF “SHAKE IT OFF”
The “Rhiannon” incident in Rolling Stone in February 2010 proved Taylor’s method was/is to follow John closely on social media and follow any leads to his activity (hiring his drummer from Born & Raised, hiring Katy’s writers, moving to New York City, making publicity overtures with his friends like Cazzie David, recording at Electric Lady Studios where he recorded, and on and on). Then, like John’s reference of Stevie Nicks, Taylor would then look up songs or artists he was referencing and use the material as a “connection” to him to “communicate” with him to document it publicly.
Where the Light Is: John Mayer Live in Los Angeles (2008) above Los Angeles in the intro
Taylor replicating and repeating John for the launch of the plagiarized “Shake it Off” over NYC
This pattern she established (from the beginning) is then the basis of the silent settlement of the songwriter lawsuit over the lyrics of “Shake it Off.” I personally spoke to the prosecuting lawyer on the phone about the exact evidence they needed to prove the case and giving enough information to go much further in evidence if necessary, for example, proving that she lies to the public. Not only could I prove that she was lying about never having heard the “Playas” song, but also show the source from where the biographical data (mine) was coming that she was using as the basis of this untrue story in the headlines as a response to the lawsuit. And so with Taylor’s covert need to hide these things, the settlement was assured.
John, very aware of what happens in music, had tweeted the lyrics of the “Playas Gon' Play” song, “Playas gonna play. Haters gonna hate” before he deleted his social media. Taylor, still mimicking her connection with him and to Fleetwood Mac, i.e. John’s tweets about Stevie Nicks to his Tom Petty, and now years after John (and still making it clear, for example, by moving away from NYC) said he was not interested in a romantic relationship, she still took the reference to the lyric, “Players only want you when they’re playing” along with the “Playas” song. The other lyrics she plagiarized for “Shake it Off” are the exact words “shake it off” and why she “dropped the single “Shake it Off” from the Empire State Building”: John’s lyrics from “Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey” from Born and Raised (2012) recorded in NYC:
“We pick up in New York CityI'm tryin’ to find the man I never got to be.But when I push down on the pavementI found the whole thing so much harder than it seemed.The only deal I ever signedNo devil drew a dotted lineThe stage was set, the words were mineI'm not complaining.Whiskey, whiskey, whiskeyWater, water, water, sleepWhiskey, whiskey, whiskeyWake up, shake it off, and repeatIt's just a phase, it's not foreverIt's just a phase, but I still might have a ways to go.”
The title 1989 was Taylor interjecting herself into a romantic reference on John’s Battle Studies Tour at Jones Beach on 21 July 2010 in NYC about the movie Say Anything (1989), the moment, on a trip to New York, I knew from the audience that for the first time he was talking to me.
These city gates are only open to the angry:
When Virgil and Dante are turned away from the gate of the City of Dis, Virgil tells him the reason they can’t enter:
“This swamp that breeds and breathes the giant stenchsurrounds the city of the sorrowing,which now we cannot enter without anger.” Canto 9
John wasn’t willing to accept music as the game of anger with Taylor forcing him into that kind of abusive situation in order for her to have a “relationship,” when he had offered kindness, and so he continued on his journey, a tour of learning what Hell is, what it is made of, who is suffering, whatever sorrow that brought because he knew that wasn’t his final destination. It’s also very much not where he started when picking up the guitar.
Canto 9’s stuck-in-the-mud “swamp,” as pointed out before, is a very different kind of reference to the clay Jesus used to heal the blind man’s eyes and the flowing water of Siloam but that into the city of Jerusalem, the divine city. It is a radical difference here in Hell. Here outside the City of Dis, the water does not flow like a healing, opening river, like the music, like “Brokedown Palace”:
“Listen to the river sing sweet songsTo rock my soulRiver going to take meSing me sweet and sleepySing me sweet and sleepyAll the way back home.”
Here in Hell the clay has been turned fetid. This is the price of blindness, the state of it, the soul in anger. This is where the man who enforced Dante’s exile and took his property is entrenched in the sludge and then, after his words to Dante, is ripped apart by others, and then when he hears his own name, rips himself apart. (The contrapasso being that they do not know Jesus or Dante as divine and they do not know themselves and the clay of their bodies are not felt but trapped in muck, like mire-entrenched tabloids spewing that which would exile people and generate hate and anger). That is Dante showing the blindness that was not healed by a dual-natured Being, both human and divine, on his way to showing the divinity of the path of the Poetry. While hate rules humanity and shade structure in Hell, Dante is as in John’s words “moving on and getting over” and with every divine Poetic word taking the clay off the eyes of the reader who will not be entrenched here either, but discover the Being within on this journey towards illumination. The water, the gorgeous flowing river is coming. Not yet, so-to-speak, as we know what’s coming, but this is the descent into Hell. But this brings up a very revealing point that Dante is careful to show: Dante (and John) are no longer in Hell while he is writing the eternal Poetry in the Present Moment, no matter how much the shades wanted to tear him apart there.
John entering the City of Dis by joining Tik Tok on 1 March 2021 before releasing “Last Train Home” and Sob Rock
We’ll see how Dante is still doing that in THIS MOMENT, how he knew he could do it (which means taking it into the future, 700 years later) as he knows he’s writing eternal words that are even true and in-the-moment to us. Eternal words stay that way, true in the Present Moment, always. Dante HAS BEEN to Hell and is telling what he REMEMBERS as a revelation of WHERE HE IS.
“I’ll make the most of all the sadness.You’ll be a bitch because you can.”-–“Slow Dancing in a Burning Room”
What is mind-blowing then is to look at the trapped-in-pain threats and slurs inside the City of Dis and see where they still are at the weaving of that kind of false “poetry,” as actually words meant to hurt, and trapped in anger in their city that doesn’t flow and then which gives a clue as to its origin of poetry weaving: from the divine Being or from a trapped shade in Hell who wants to turn Dante to stone so that he can never leave, never pass on through? Medusa (who to some scholars represents female trauma from childhood or from the past, or “Daughters”) wants to turn Dante to stone outside the gates to cause him to forever never be able to move, flow, or leave. In mythology her head of different rages, or personas, or “eras” was cut off and put on Athena’s shield, i.e. on the shield of the founder of Athens and a female-broken-open western culture, not of war and the Iliad, as Athena circumvents by helping Odysseus, but of the Odyssey and the realization home.
Dante is very careful to point out the difference between what he is remembering in seeing those suffering and the Present Moment from which he is writing. He’s also careful to show how POETRY (or lyrics) is the very transport by which this is done, and to take this further in realization: which makes them holy, or eternal, words. That is why years later those who read Dante added the word “Divina” to his La Commedia. Even in his title Dante shows before he has begun that this, a comedy, not a tragedy, has a “happy ending” which actually carries on into forever and has no ending at all, but eternal life. He shows the difference with those he saw while in Hell, and—he’s not there. (And neither is Bob Dylan.)
The Weave of Poetry, the Poet, the Past & the Eternal all in the Present Moment
There is a spectrum of comparison of this in Inferno Cantos 10 & 20, Canto 10 being the 5th circle of “Wrath” where “language is weaponized to inflict hurt” (Digital Dante), i.e. they don’t know Poetry or the Poet, and Canto 20, the lower, 8th Circle of “Fraud” in the fourth Bolgia or trench of those who were using divination to tell the future, which means they, too, do not know eternal Poetry or how to weave from the Present Moment (Beingness). In the 5th circle, Dante figures out that the men he knew with whom he is conversing don’t know what is happening in the Present Moment, although they can see broad things in the future, as to what will happen to Florence, for example. But as the events get closer, the shade tells Dante, they begin to lose sight until what is in the moment they have no idea. (As scholar Barolini on Digital Dante points out, they also have no idea of each others’ pain, nor do they care.) Dante connects this directly to Poetry and to Beingness: one shade asked Dante about his son’s fate when Dante points of the difference of this son’s (Guido’s) poetry and his own that Guido “did disdain” Dante’s poetry being about “salvation” through Beatrice, the one awaiting him and to whom he hopes to make it (when in the writing, he knows he has already made it—the future and the past in the Present Moment, along with his own illumination). Dante’s use of the past tense in stating “did disdain” sets off the father into despair that his son is no longer alive. But Dante didn’t mean that. He was talking about the past tense of the poetry. Dante leaves a message for him that his son is still alive, but that he didn’t answer him because he was trying to figure out why the shade didn’t know the Present, i.e. the state of his own son. In other words, they also do not recognize each other in the Present Moment because they do not recognize their Beingness.
This is the state of the City of Dis.
It is actually what kept Virgil and Dante outside the gate. They don’t know Beingness here. Likewise, but further into hell with Fraud, Dante sees those who were trying to read the future but are now walking with their heads twisted backwards so that they have to walk backwards as if to the past. In this very moment of writing the poetry Dante makes it very clear where he IS to the reader (while pointing out that he is no longer ‘submerged’:
“I must make verses of new punishmentand offer matter now for Canto Twentyof this first canticle—of the submerged.”
while looking at this PAST traipse through Hell, having already arrived, whereas about whom he writes are stuck weeping, never having actually seen the future because they tried to use a means different from the Poetry and Cosmos (what he closely links) themselves. “See those sad women who had left their needle, shuttle, and spindle to become diviners; they cast their spells with herbs and effigies.”
In other words, they left writing poetry from the core of the eternal inner Being and turned to trying to cast spells (like voodoo) to form a future shaped without that eternal Beingness, which would have given them sight of the Present Moment and the future, into eternity. The huge realization is that those in Hell, the very factor of Hell, is that none of them see the Present Moment, are trapped in pain, and thus are in Hell. But whereas those in Circle 5 are trapped in throwing angry words, those in the Circle of Fraud can never actually walk forwards, as Dante has shown he has done. Just ask John, if you want to know, ‘Where the Light Is.’ He’ll take you there.