Autobiographic notes: The 1999 television interview

© January 2017 Paul Cooijmans


In the late 1990s I was primarily occupied with difficult intelligence tests and I.Q. societies. I had founded the Glia Society in 1997, and been advertising it in various journals, magazines, and papers, spending hundreds of guilders. I did not have Internet access yet, but a few others — Bill Bultas and Darryl Miyaguchi — were publishing materials by me on their web sites. One of the many things I tried in that period was spreading a leaflet about the Glia Society. I sent it to places like press agencies, broadcasting organizations, newspapers, and so on. In the autumn of 1999, one such leaflet ended up in the hands of the editors of a television program called Waskracht, broadcast weekly by the organization informally known as the male parent urinates perpendicularly in the upward direction. Some time, late September or early October, they called me and said they wanted to interview me about those I.Q. things, and asked if I was willing to cooperate and answer openly and honestly. Naturally, I am always open and honest by inborn disposition and inability to be anything else but that, and agreed. An appointment was made for the interview, to take place in my house where they would visit me with a camera.

Frame from the 1999 interview with Paul Cooijmans Frame from the 1999 interview with Paul Cooijmans
Selected frames from the interview

The interview

On the day of the interview, the tellingbone rang multiple times and a girl asked for directions to my place. They were on their way to film me, and it gradually became clear that she was speaking from a moving car through some sort of new-fashioned contraption that allowed mobile telephony. When they finally arrived and walked slowly from the parked car toward my front door, I saw, somewhat to my relief, that the dreaded Robbie Muntz was not with them, who was also making contributions to Waskracht in those days and notorious for his style of interviewing and making television. I let the girl and a young man carrying a long beam with a big microphone in, and she introduced herself as Bunny. I did not know either of them at the time, but many years later she would become known as an activist against supposedly racist Netherlandic traditions and unaware racism of White people. She looked like she was not older than about 16 years, although in hindsight must have been in her late twenties.

When recording the interview, the girl did the talking while filming me using a surprisingly small camera, and the man operated some equipment and held the microphone up and out of sight. We filmed in different locations, such as my living room, a study room upstairs, a sand path at some distance from my house where I often go running, a shoarma bar in a neighbouring village, the public library, and outside my front door. We also recorded a call for the Prize for genius, large 2000 guilders to be paid from my private savings and constituting two monthly incomes, which I was awarding to the highest score before the year 2000 on my Netherlandic Test For Genius. Bunny promised to broadcast this call, and to inform me well beforehand when the interview would be on television, and also said I would receive a video tape with the program if so desired. To my regret I have to say, just like with my 1992 appearance in Television nomads, that none of the promises were kept. The call was left out of the interview, I was not informed beforehand when the program would be aired (unless a message on my voicemail ten minutes before the start of the show counts as such) and I have never received a video of the interview, despite my explicit request shortly after the broadcast, which I had not been able to record on tape myself because I had not been informed of the date of the broadcast.

Leaving out my call regarding the Prize for genius was a painful case of missed opportunity, considering the bloodcurdling developments around the Prize in the early 2000s as related in The history of I.Q. Tests for the High-Range. These developments would also serve as inspiration for my 2012 novel Field of eternal integrity.

Although the interview lasted half the day and I remember saying substantial things about intelligence, only five minutes of it were used in the end, and the material was chosen so that I appeared a kind of deviant or recluse. For instance, I did mention that most criminals have below-average I.Q.'s and violent crime peaks between I.Q. 80 and 90, but this subtantial statement regarding intelligence was left out, while personal material was abundantly included to dishonestly portray me in a certain way. That is how television works, apparently. Ignore the content, focus on the person. Telling is also how Bunny asked suggestive personal questions like "Do you perhaps not have high social intelligence?" (I told her that social intelligence does not exist; do notice how the question already contains her expected answer) and "But are you highly developed in the emotional plane too?"

To the latter question my answer was, "Yes, I would say so. I have never yet lied, and I do not do wrong to other people. That shows that I am emotionally highly developed."

Failures by the interviewer were excluded too. At one point she asked the bizarre question, "Will you not be disappointed when you discover that certain people can be intelligent too?"

This baffled me, and I replied, "Which people then? And why do you think I think they can not be intelligent? And why do you think I would be disappointed when finding out they can be intelligent?"

Instead of answering these perfectly reasonable questions, after which I could have responded properly to the thus clarified question, she shook her head and said something like, "So you do not want to talk about it", and went on to the next question. But I was dying to talk about it! If only she would say what it was that she wanted to talk about?! How presumptuous of her to assume that I did not want to talk about it! Only years later, when she was in the news in connection with racism in White people, I began to understand that Bunny Sergman had been projecting racist bias regarding intelligence on me — "he is dealing with intelligence and I.Q. tests, so he must be a racist". A clear and shameful example of prejudice.

Frame from the 1999 interview with Paul Cooijmans: In front of world map Frame from the 1999 interview with Paul Cooijmans: In shoarma bar
Selected frames from the interview

Because she was curious to see how I interacted with the so-called "normal" people (that is how she put it) we used their car to drive to the a shoarma bar in Aarle-Rixtel and to the public library of Lieshout. While I was making photocopies in the library, which I did a lot in that era, when not everything went via computers and the Internet yet, Bunny interviewed the librarian. She had asked permission for that before we entered the library with the camera and sound equipment, and had done the same in the shoarma bar. I could not hear the interview at the time, but in the program the librarian can be seen saying, "I still remember he was once working on a booklet with super-difficult questions, wherewith he had thrown his whole family in confusion."

"His family?" said Bunny.


"But in what respect then?"

"Hmmm… His sister was here once, she was looking for a word of which Paul knew what the meaning was, and she didn't. And she sought everywhere, but it was nowhere to be found…"

The car was to a high degree messy, as if someone was living in it. On the way back from Aarle-Rixtel Bunny produced a "Test yourself" booklet by Hans Eysenck, whose name she repeatedly pronounced "Eyseneck", and let me try a few of the questions, which was awkward because she was sitting in the back seat and I in the passenger seat next to the driver. It was a booklet I possessed myself, so, already knowing the problems, I could have made a big impression by promptly giving all correct answers. Of course, that is not how I am, so I explained that this was not an appropriate setting for test administration. Incidentally, I had a collection of such "Test yourself" books at the time, but later sold them all at once for 100 euros to someone interested. I suspect they are worth a great multiple of that now.

Though unrelated to this interview, it is interesting to note that only two or three weeks earlier I had received an unexpected visit from the first Giga Society member, who, if I am correct, was still the only member at the time. He had joined in the course of 1999, the society having been founded in 1996. It happened like this: The telephone rang one weekday afternoon, and he — the member — said who he was and that he was in the country and had suddenly decided to try to visit me (he lived in the United States himself). More precisely, he was already at the railway station of Helmond, the nearest station to Lieshout, and wondered what was the best way to get to me. I explained that public transport was no convenient option because, although it was technically possible to get from Helmond station to Lieshout by bus, this might take a few hours even though it was only ten kilometres (walking was literally quicker). I said I would collect him from the station by car.

Half an hour later we were back in my house and talked a bit. He had chosen a bad day; we were disturbed a few times, by painters who were working on the house, and by a carpenter who came to do maintenance on a door. We agreed to go for a walk in the nearby forest and left again by car, after verifying with the painters that the backdoor was sufficiently dry to close it for a few hours. In the forest we walked around a heath field and climbed a watchtower overlooking the field; the tower is no longer there, but it was the same type as the one in a short film I made with my third fugue and photos of the watchtower on Keelgras, Lieshout. This walk and climbing of the tower is also briefly referred to in my novel Field of eternal integrity. I recall that we talked about time travel, among other things. From the forest, we then drove back to the railway station and said goodbye.

Frame from the 1999 interview with Paul Cooijmans: In front of guitar Frame from the 1999 interview with Paul Cooijmans: Playing guitar
Selected frames from the interview

During part of the interview I played guitar, both improvisation and a few compositions of my own. However, I did not receive any payment for the broadcasting on national television of those works, even though they were registered with the copyright organization Buma/Stemra and I reported their broadcast with the designated form. I ended my association with Buma/Stemra shortly thereafter.


I had been asked, and agreed, to do an interview about my activities with I.Q. tests and societies, and to talk openly about the topic. The actual interview, however, consisted predominantly of personal questions, the phrasing of which in some cases betrayed the interviewer's biased perception of me, which would turn out to prevail in the broadcast material. Wherever I could I did say substantial things pertaining to the subject matter — intelligence, tests — and I said them openly, thus providing the interviewer with gold, potentially dynamite, but most of that was not recognized and left out by the interviewer, who obviously lacked any expertise in the field in question. Looking back, I have been misled and tricked into making a subjective portrait of me as a person, using false pretenses and unkept promises. I know meanwhile that such a modus operandi is common practice in the media.

A truly missed opportunity was failing to include my call regarding the Prize for genius; that could have brought in much additional data for my test. Clearly, they were not interested in advancing science.